We will pass through Aktobe probably around Monday next week (if all goes well), but at least the weather forecast indicates the mentioned preparations were not too far off the mark.
Otherwise, I have been performing a couple of tests over the last days. The torches are amazingly wind-proof, once they are burning properly (which takes a few minutes), it was impossible to extinguish them unless using a pot of water. Moreover, the Sat-Phone works quite well, too. While in the beginning I was under-estimating the importance of a clear line-of-sight to the sky, the use of an external antenna resulted in a constant strong signal even in quick movement with absolutely acceptable transmission quality.