While browsing for the weather awhile back I found a story about how a Solar Superstorm Could Knock Out U.S. Power. It wasn’t the fact that there was a story about it, but that the story was well written and had some elements of doom in it. Kind of surprising for a mainstream site like weather.com.
I won’t rehash a lot of the story here. As preppers you probably already know many of the details of such an event and if you don’t you can always read the story. But there were a couple of things worth mentioning. First:
In a worst-case scenario, commerce would almost instantly cease, he said, noting he was speaking for himself and not the U.S. government.
Water and fuel, which depend on electric pumps, would stop flowing in most cities within hours, modern communications would end and mechanized transport would stall. (Source.)
The academy report said more than 130 million people in the United States could be affected. Andres said the death toll could run into the millions in the worst-case scenario. (Source.)
It’s nice to see someone who’s not afraid to lay it out there. Another point they make is that there’s about a 7% chance of this kind of solar event happening in the next ten years, whereas a comet or asteroid strike is some fraction of one percent. Not incredibly high odds, but the potential for extreme damage is so high that it does warrant some thought and maybe some money thrown at it to help protect the grid just in case said event does transpire.
Here’s another thing, I knew that transformers were expensive, but I had no idea of the complexity and size of these things:
Of greater concern are severe solar storms that bombard Earth with magnetized particles that could damage giant transformers so thoroughly that they would be impossible to restart. Two such monster storms occurred in 1859 and 1921. Neither were catastrophic, mostly because society was not as dependent on electricity and the U.S. electric grid was not the sophisticated, interconnected network it is now.
Replacing damaged transformers is a major logistical undertaking, with a typical high-voltage transformer about as big as a small house and weighing 500,000 pounds.
Holy cow! I didn’t realize what a job it was to change one of those bad boys out! It would be a major operation to get one of these put in place let alone most of the ones that currently exist in the U.S.
Then there’s the human element:
Many of these agencies already have considered this type of outage, but not because of an attack from the sun. The U.S. national security community has worried about an enemy high altitude nuclear burst that could do roughly the same thing: generate an electromagnetic pulse that would fry the power grid.
Again, as preppers these are things we all pretty much already know, but even then it’s tough to imagine what life would be like without electricity. Just about every thing we do involves electricity in some way. All it would take is a country with a dislike of America and a nuclear bomb or two and they could put a good portion of the country right back to the 1800’s.
It’s possible that the effects from a storm like this or an EMP blast may not be as severe as scientists and other experts think, but even if it was a fraction of what they’re saying that’s still pretty significant.
How many ways do you know of to protect yourself and electronics from an event like this?
Sound off below!