About that almost 'Carrington Event' two weeks ago

Massive X6.9 class solar flare, August 9, 2011...

Massive X6.9 class solar flare, August 9, 2011. While this flare produced a coronal mass ejection (CME), this CME is not traveling towards the Earth, and no local effects are expected. Sun Unleashes X6.9 Class Flare, NASA press release dated 08.09.2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lots of people talking about this article in the UK daily Mail:

A near miss for Earth: Solar flare that could have knocked out power, cars and phones came so close two weeks ago

  • Earth has narrowly missed electromagnetic pulses caused by solar flares
  • If they had hit, the pulses could have knocked out electrical equipment over continent-scale regions

An electromagnetic pulse that could have knocked electrical equipment over continent-scale regions barely missed Earth two weeks ago, it has been revealed.

Source: (h/t Jack Simmons)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2382527/A-near-miss-Earth-Devastating-electromagnetic-pulses-knocked-power-cars-phones-occured-weeks-ago.html

But, not so fast…NASA’s Dr. Tony Phillips of Spaceweather.com writes:

Many readers are asking about a report in the Washington Examiner, which states that a Carrington-class solar storm narrowly missed Earth two weeks ago. There was no Carrington-class solar storm two weeks ago. On the contrary, solar activity was low throughout the month of July.

The report is erroneous.

The possibility of such a storm is, however, worth thinking about: A modern Carrington event would cause significant damage to our high-tech society.

There is even a recent SciFi movie revolving around the idea which seems to have gone straight to video:

carrington_event_movie

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Chris B

“…. just people getting more crazy.”

Another strong storm hit in May 1921:
From http://www.tjugofyra7.se/msb/Arkiv/Avdelningar/Nyheter/Svar-solstorm-drabbade-Karlstad-1921/
2012-04-20
Severe solar storm hit Karlstad 1921
One of the most severe effects of solar storms in Sweden hit the telephone station in Karlstad the night before Whitsunday in 1921. The station, then one of the first in Sweden, caught fire and the damages were made worse by the destruction of the system in place to alert the fire department.
During Easter 1921 the Northern Hemisphere was hit by a severe solar storm. Already the night before Whitsunday the telephone station in Karlstad had suffered disturbances when fuses and circuit breakers had burned out and tripped.
Around 2 am at Whitsunday night the 15th May [1921] a neighbor watched the wires and cables leading to the telephone station begin to glow, soon causing the station to catch fire. A policeman on patrol tried to activate a fire alarm installation, but since that did not had any reaction, a cyclist was sent to alert the fire station.
The fire in the telephone station caused all fire alarm installations to malfunction causing confusion at the fire station. The message from the cyclist brought clarity and action, but still with 20 minutes delay. The destruction was great and the next day the director of the Telephone Line Technical Service, F.R.Fredericksson from Goteborg arrived with the news that the disturbances were felt everywhere in the Swedish Telephone Net, especially in Svealand, but nowhere as severe as in Karlstad.
The Telegraph Company [who was in charge of the Telephone Network] assured everybody that no resources would be spared. Additional personnel from Goteborg and Orebro were called in to work 24/7 in three shifts. A temporary telephone station was set up within a few days, but initially only the most important customers were connected.
The newspapers in Karlstad followed the repair work from day to day and reported that businesses were paralyzed. The fire led to severe problems for banks and the Chamber of Commerce was talking about ‘Force Majeure’. Every day, businesses and banks would announce on the newspapers’ front page that their phone number was again ready for use.
The fire and the damages due to the solar storm became an expensive event for the Telegraph Company. The cost was computed to reach 200,000 kronor and, according to the Nya Wermland paper, the station was insured for 177,000 kronor, but when the insurance was up for renewal on April 1st it had been allowed to lapse as a cost-cutting measure.
———
These storms are real and dangerous

“During Easter 1921 …” should, of course, be “Over Pentecost 1921 …”

jimmi_the_dalek

At some point such an event will occur. At some point a major asteroid impact will occur. In the short term the lesson is : Don’t believe anything in the Daily Mail without checking a reliable source.

Pamela Gray

I for one would not mind losing my cell phone connectivity along with ready computer access. I yearn for the days of a party line and a big black heavy phone along with a smelly inky newspaper to read. Ready access to connectivity and news has raised my stress levels immeasurably.

Russ Hatch

If it happens it will be interesting to see how the greenies react. they seem to want us to be in the preindustrial era anyway.

Bennett In Vermont

The problem is that anyone who needed to buy anything with a credit or debit card would probably be truly screwed.
I wonder how long it would take the electronic banking system to get back up to speed?

Cal Smith

As sure as the “If” should be “when” will be the claims that it would not have been as bad if it weren’t for the nasty CO2 in the air.

CRS, DrPH

This threat is real & very dangerous, better to spend money protecting our grid vs. CAGW protection. Lots of reading material here: http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/category/homeland-security/infrastructure-and-emp/

wayne

Hey, that one’s right up there in scientific realism ratings with the “Absolute Zero” movie!
Loving to scare people who love to be scared (or don’t know better than being)
The one thing that made the 1859(?) event “special” was the fact that telegraphs were a brand new technology. They actually has single wires, no breaks, transformers, or suppressors, from New York to Kansas City, many hundreds of miles, and this is what can generate quite a d.c. jolt in a magnetic storm, it’s the unbroken length of the wire in a varying magnetic field, not really a.c. but slow varying d.c.. As far as something as small as a cars, or personal computer, or a watches ceasing to work is one huge stretch of the imagination to me. If you know how electricity, magnetic fields strengths, frequencies and distances are related just calculate it for yourself and see if you think this is as dangerous as many portray it.
As for the Montreal transformers that has past problems a few decades ago it is much the same scenario with huge transforms unprotected (and very sensitive) for large stray d.c. fluxes over long hauls I do believe most power companies learned a good lesson there and have since protected their equipment.
Seems this topic keeps popping up here at wuwt regularly and this seems about as bad as the haarp hype.
Maybe I’m wrong but that is how I view this Carrington topic. If I am incorrect and power companies have all left themselves wide-open for huge losses let me know specifically where and why (preferably in the physics and numbers).
But I admit, this is an interesting topic if nothing else but to dismiss the misunderstanding.

Recent analysis http://www.leif.org/EOS/swsv130015.pdf suggests that the Carrington-event was not a ‘500-yr flood’ type event, but may happen a lot more frequently. ‘When’ may not be all that far off.

Pete Olson

Don’t understand why that movie went straight to video with an all-star cast like that…

If they had hit, the pulses could have knocked out electrical equipment over continent-scale regions

Good, we need this as a teachable moment. The AGW death cult is intent on returning us to both the climate and the technological state of pre-1880. Coincidentally this is the pre-electrical era.
One day, then a week, then two weeks without electricity for their TV, phones, tablets, hot water, heat and cooking will re-calibrate the mindset of population, changing them from being spoiled and stupid back to thankful.
Once power is restored the AGW luddite fanatics will open their mouthes at their peril.

Dan in california.

So what’s the comparison of a Carrington event with an EMP from a nuke blast in the stratosphere? The effects of them have been well studied. I would guess the Carrington event would contain a lot less of the higher frequency stuff and therefore do a lot less damage to smaller systems.

OssQss

If you sign up here,,,,, you would know of the issue well ahead of most.
https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov/LoginWebForm.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fproductsubscriptionservice%2f
One must ask of themselves,,,,, how would I do with no power, internet, cell, etc..
Being in a hurricane zone,,, it might be a bit different perspective for me.
How would city dwellers do?

ossqss

BTW, if you sign up for space weather alerts, make sue you understand how to use the filters.
Lessons learned from these shoes 😉

dEEBEE

And global warming, oops Climate Change will make it likelier that such events devastate us

While this is not such an event in a solar perspective. It has a similar impact with respect to energy none the less.
Yep, it is old, but is it any different/lesser today?

@Dan So what’s the comparison of a Carrington event with an EMP from a nuke blast in the stratosphere?
Well there is the book One Second After (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Second_After)
which is a supposedly well researched novel on the effects of an EMP attack on the continental US. Not pretty, but entirely plausible.

Patrick

“Bennett In Vermont says:
August 2, 2013 at 6:17 pm
I wonder how long it would take the electronic banking system to get back up to speed?”
Large sections of the electronic banking system would be unavailable for weeks, years or even permanently. I know from experience that most banks, their branches, datacentres and communications networks, are in no way prepared to deal with an event like this.

Jtom

In a situation like a hurricane, you have most of the country to use as a staging area to bring in equipment and supplies. Imagine the grid going down across the hemispere. Nukes would shut down. Unquestionably there would be damage to the grid by sudden load imbalances. Breakers would trip throughout the network. You need to get men, parts and equipment all over the country, but there’s no power. Must fuel planes by handpump or emergency generator (which likely will be taken away by some government agency!) Can’t pump fuel into cars, either, except by hand. Can’t manufacture any special parts. How do you get the right people to the right places? Underground landlines might still work off of central office batteries, but forget the cellphone network. No way to communicate with the experts you need. The grid would have to be boot-strapped. Power plants must be restarted and parts of the grid connected in deliberate fashion to avoid more load imbalances, or undiscovered equipment failures.
How long would this take? What would major cities be like after week-long blackouts, no food deliveries, and essentially no way to cook the food? No running water, backed up sewage. No garbage collection. Police scrambling to maintain order. I can’t even imagine.
Before Dr. Svalgaard enlightened us that Carrington events were likely more frequent than a 500 year average I figured there was a 16 per cent chance of one in my lifetime (now down to about a five per cent chance, since my future life expectancy has grown considerably shorter) Now I have to raise the threat level of one. Guess I’ll add to my stock of emergency supplies.
At least the ill effects of global warming wouldn’t literally happen over night. 🙂

Les Francis

Re iterate what Anthony post scripted on Dr. Svalgaards post above.
I’ll repeat it again
[quote] It isn’t a matter of “if” we’ll get another Carrington type event, it is simply a matter of when. If we aren’t prepared, we’ll be back into the pre-industrial era in a few seconds.[/quote]
PRE Industrial era
Forget about internet banking or any banking for that matter.
You know the line from the Gilligans Island theme? – “:No Phones, No lights, No motor cars, not a single luxury”:.
Survival will be the premium.

Rational Db8

@Blade says: August 2, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Good, we need this as a teachable moment. The AGW death cult is intent on returning us to both the climate and the technological state of pre-1880. Coincidentally this is the pre-electrical era.
One day, then a week, then two weeks without electricity for their TV, phones, tablets, hot water, heat and cooking will re-calibrate the mindset of population, changing them from being spoiled and stupid back to thankful.

MANY many people would die. I sure as heck wouldn’t be wishing this one anyone. Take the southwest for example – you plunge major cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tuscon into power outage, and it happens to be summer with 115 degree temperatures, and a lot of people start dying pretty blasted quickly – or even if it’s the very very common 105-110 temps throughout the SW. Or northern cities in the winter with no heat, same result. And if the EMP/Solar flare is large enough to actually affect not just the electric grid, but also transportation, suddenly major cities all over the nation have NO food within a very few days. And what about water? How do people manage to get water, when pumping stations are down without electricity – that would be a massive problem within the first day or two…
This wouldn’t be a “teachable moment” unless you like the idea of one he!! of a brutal lesson with possibly millions dead. But I’ll grant you it would certainly re-arrange priorities for all those who survive lickety split. Personally, I’ll wish for a re-alignment that’s a little less gruesome and severe.

And the Critical National Infrastructures Report (http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf) states:
“Geomagnetic Storms. Probably one of the most famous and severe effects from solar storms occurred on March 13, 1989. On this day, several major impacts occurred to the power grids in North America and the United Kingdom. This included the complete blackout of the Hydro-Quebec power system and damage to two 400/275 kV autotransformers in southern England. In addition, at the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey a 1200 MVA, 500 kV transformer was damaged beyond repair when portions of its
structure failed due to thermal stress. The failure was caused by stray magnetic flux
impinging on the transformer core. Fortunately, a replacement transformer was readily
available; otherwise the plant would have been down for a year, which is the normal
delivery time for larger power transformers.”
This is the biggy, is there a shortage of spares or not??

Rational Db8

Anyone happen to know if there are good estimates about how the Carrington event flare(s) would fall on today’s scale? There were several X class flares in May of this year… perhaps one or more of those was responsible for a “carrington” level flare had the Earth been two weeks further advanced in it’s orbit? I did a quick search and just found that the Carrington was a “white light flare” but heck if I know how that fits into the current classification scale….

Rational Db8

@ Regnad Kcin says: August 2, 2013 at 8:11 pm
It’s my understanding that they pretty much don’t keep any spares to speak of for the biggest transformers, and that those would be quite vulnerable – and that it takes one to two YEARS to gt replacements (and that assumes that one of the few places that makes them isn’t also hit and knocked into the stone age too, I guess).

(http://www.empcommission.org/docs/A2473-EMP_Commission-7MB.pdf)
“Geomagnetic storms represent an approximation to an E3-induced voltage effect. The
experience to date is of events that may be orders of magnitude smaller in scope and less
severe than that expected from an EMP — although the Commission has also investigated
the impact of a 100-year superstorm. The induced geomagnetic superstorm currents
in the transmission lines will cause hundreds of high voltage transformers to saturate,
creating a severe reactive load in the power system leading to voltage collapse in the
affected area and damage to elements of the transmission system. The nature of this
threat did not allow for experimental testing of the E3 effect, so this historical record is
the best information on the effect”

Mike Wryley

Anthony,
Not to worry, a good share of the population is already pre-enlightenment era, should be a good match.

My apologies for repeating a false report.
However, the threat is very real.
The really scary thing about an Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP), both natural and man-made, is there is a full range of frequencies produced with great power. This means every electrical circuit, from a thousand mile long power line to a mm long wire in a pacemaker becomes an antenna. All of these antennas pick up the pulse at their frequency and transform it into a very high voltage and current event, overloading their respective circuits. Remember, you have either the sun or a nuclear explosion behind all those frequencies.
If my memory serves me right, the first instance of a man-made EMP took place during a high altitude test of a nuclear device over Hawaii. Many circuits were damaged or destroyed. It was a completely unexpected side effect of a nuclear detonation. All the other tests were on or under the ground or at a low altitude, too low to transmit the effect over much of a distance.
The only thing to be done is to wrap your circuit inside a Faraday cage.
A power company may want to consider storing its field vehicles in garages serving as Faraday cages as well. Included might be replacement coils for power plant generators. Or perhaps it might make sense to shield power plants with large Faraday cages.
Dittos for hospitals, police departments, computer server farms, etc.
Not only are we vulnerable to the Carrington effect but a rogue nation could launch a missile topped with a device designed with an enhanced EMP effect. You wouldn’t have to get close, just over a major region of the country.
Imagine the chaos such a simple weapon could cause.

jarthuroriginal is my WordPress.com account name.
My name is Jack Simmons.
Sorry about any confusion.

Rational Db8 says:
August 2, 2013 at 8:18 pm
Anyone happen to know if there are good estimates about how the Carrington event flare(s) would fall on today’s scale? There were several X class flares in May of this year
Our best estimate of the X-ray flux from the Carrington Event is X45 which is 45 times stronger than an X1 event

Rational Db8

@jarthuroriginal
I believe you are thinking of the Starfish prime test over Johnson island, very nearly 900 miles away from Hawaii. It wasn’t the first man-made EMP – but it did have a far far greater EMP effect than expected, and it affected electronics etc., on Hawaii (talk about a terrifying concept!). From the notoriously incorrect but oh so convenient Wiki, just to get you started if you are interested in details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfish_Prime
Apparently there is some intelligence suggesting that N. Korea has been working on an EMP divice capable of attacking the USA directly, with a suspected south polar orbit/vector of attack. I have no idea how legitimate the claim is, or how close they might be to being able to accomplish this. Any large nuke set off from about 200 miles up – a single blast – would wipe out much of the entire USA – depending on how big the nuke anyhow. I don’t have a handy link, but have previously been able to find some maps even showing concentric circles for just how much of the USA would be affected from a single ballistic high atmosphere nuke centered over the USA, based on size and also altitude. It’s a disconcerting thought when one realizes how many nuclear nations are also capable of launching a high altitude bomb that way – and all it would take is one to do massive damage to our infrastructure.
The true absurdity of it all is that our government has known this full well for decades, and the estimates of the cost to significantly harden our infrastructure is utterly miniscule compared to the amount being spent towards global warming b.s.

Rational Db8

@ Leif Svalgaard says: August 2, 2013 at 9:07 pm
THANK YOU Leif! What’s the biggest recorded X class that you can recall offhand? Or if anyone has a link handy to a site listing all the really big ones we’ve recorded over an extended timeframe (regardless of the direction of the blast)….

Rational Db8

Well, they couldn’thave been referring to the may x class flares then – those weren’t anywhere close to an X45:
from spaceweather.com:

Third Update: May 14, 9 a.m. EDT
The sun emitted a third significant solar flare in under 24 hours, peaking at 9:11 p.m. EDT on May 13, 2013. This flare is classified as an X3.2 flare. This is the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, surpassing in strength the two X-class flares that occurred earlier in the 24-hour period.
The flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection, or CME. The CME began at 9:30 p.m. EDT and was not Earth-directed. Experimental NASA research models show that the CME left the sun at approximately 1,400 miles per second, which is particularly fast for a CME. The models suggest that it will catch up to the two CMEs associated with the earlier flares. The merged cloud of solar material will pass by the Spitzer spacecraft and may give a glancing blow to the STEREO-B and Epoxi spacecraft. Their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from solar material.

Rational Db8 says:
August 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm
THANK YOU Leif! What’s the biggest recorded X class that you can recall offhand?
X35 in 2003. See the discussion in the link I gave http://www.leif.org/EOS/swsv130015.pdf

Tarraganda

May 1921 – Telegraph Services interupted and Aurora observed in Southern Australia:
from: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.) Tuesday 17 May 1921
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/1757393?searchTerm=telephone&searchLimits=l-decade=192|||l-month=05|||l-year=1921|||sortby=dateAsc

otsar

It is interesting that no one has addressed what happens at the ends of the many long pipelines. The lower frequencies do penetrate the surface and do induce large telluric currents.

highflight56433

When this happens, the large grocery stores in the affected area will run out of food within days. Chaos will follow. Those of us with a store of food, and garden areas, and independent water sources will be much better off. Any amount of preparation for a disaster is better than no preparation. Not to live in fear of such, but to be realistic that the “when” does happen. Water, food, fuel, protection, etc. Be smart.

dp

How many ambitious global, national, regional, state, county, city, township, and ghetto civil and military leaders will look out at the carnage produced by a Carrington event and ask “If not now, when?” and then launch all out war against their weakest neighbor? I think the answer is: more than 1. I think, in fact, it will be the new norm, and old frontiers will be forever changed and society with it. Civilization will pause and climate will not be discussed.

mesocyclone

There are differences between EMP and a CME event. EMP has very high frequency (fast rise time) electric fields, followed later by long lasting (tens of minutes) strong geomagnetic storm.
The former would represent a danger to lots of electronic devices, even unconnected to the power system. It would also represent a danger to the power system.
The later would *destroy* the power system, especially custom-made high voltage/high power transformers upon which our grid is absolutely reliant.
And no, we don’t have nearly enough spares, and it would take many months for them to be made overseas (our industry would be dark and useless).
There are congress-critters who keep trying to get some money put into the budget to solve this. It wouldn’t take but a few tens of billions to keep the power system alive, and critical communications and computing infrastructure sort of intact.
Without that, tens of millions would probably die, unless overseas help could transport food to us and feed us. Many would die anyway – from violence and shortages before any help arrived.
It is criminal that the US has not protected itself against these events, especially since an EMP attack is *easier* than an ICBM attack (no re-entry vehicle needed). To do grave damage to the US, an asymmetric enemy like Iran or North Korea need merely orbit a nuke – even a primitive, low-yield one, and set it off over the center of the country.

highflight56433

Listen to what mesocyclone says:
August 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm

@Leif, RE: Karlstad 1921
That anecdote was about the worst hit station in an event 92 years ago. Other stations suffered less. People learned.
Was there a repeat in 1921 of US telegraphs sparking and starting fires from the 1859 event? A NY Central Signal and Switch yard and fire in a control tower. One telegraph building burned. But given the number of potential places of failure, civilization came through and learned some more. http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html
Have electrical engineers learned nothing from 92 years of technology, engineering, and grid management? Grids manage to continue operation through all but the worst electrical storms. A Carrington EMP gives us hours of warning. I suppose we have one benefit from wind-farm installations: Grid operators have learned to work with live, ever changing, transmission line loads. Fortunately more and more of our communications are on non-conducting fiber-optic.

By powering down transmission lines and satellites ahead of time, power companies can partially mitigate the impact of voltage spikes caused by the solar storm.
…At least, that’s the hope. Unfortunately, it sounds like this system is not entirely ready. A 2010 Grid Reliability and Infrastructure Defense Act of the U.S. Congress predicts that it may cost $100 million to protect the United States’ power grid against solar EMPs. – GreekGeek fromFox News

That is million, not billion.
Yes, there is some engineering to do, if it hasn’t already been done. And prudent precautions in case of a day’s warning of an event. But I’m smelling a “Y2K” doomsday hype.
Frankly, we have much more to worry about from an unstable grid as a consequence of politically generated disasters from increases in wind power and losses in coal-fired base load generation. FERC may be charged with protecting us from EMP, but they are falling down on the job in their everyday duties.
“Solar Storm Threat Analysis”, James A. Marusek, Impact 2007 (PDF 29 pgs, 0.8 MB)

Correction. instead of EMP I meant CME GMS (geomagnetic storm)

Kevin Lohse

Much of the West’s essential electronic comms network has been hardened against the EMP from nuclear device(s). The rationale behind the development of the Net was to maintain comms in a nuclear exchange. Would not these measures provide a degree of protection against a Carrington event? Another point is that we would have warning of a Carrington event. Would this be long enough to enable emergency measures to be taken such as closing down power generation on the night side of the Earth, and taking similar measures in the time available on the day side while the event is building to dangerous levels?

cba


August 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm
My apologies for repeating a false report.
However, the threat is very real.
The really scary thing about an Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP), both natural and man-made, is there is a full range of frequencies produced with great power. This means every electrical circuit, from a thousand mile long power line to a mm long wire in a pacemaker becomes an antenna. All of these antennas pick up the pulse at their frequency and transform it into a very high voltage and current event, overloading their respective circuits. Remember, you have either the sun or a nuclear explosion behind all those frequencies.
If my memory serves me right, the first instance of a man-made EMP took place during a high altitude test of a nuclear device over Hawaii. Many circuits were damaged or destroyed. It was a completely unexpected side effect of a nuclear detonation. All the other tests were on or under the ground or at a low altitude, too low to transmit the effect over much of a distance.
The only thing to be done is to wrap your circuit inside a Faraday cage.
A power company may want to consider storing its field vehicles in garages serving as Faraday cages as well. Included might be replacement coils for power plant generators. Or perhaps it might make sense to shield power plants with large Faraday cages.
Dittos for hospitals, police departments, computer server farms, etc.
Not only are we vulnerable to the Carrington effect but a rogue nation could launch a missile topped with a device designed with an enhanced EMP effect. You wouldn’t have to get close, just over a major region of the country.
Imagine the chaos such a simple weapon could cause.

Partly right but partly wrong.
A Faraday cage works for electrostatic charges, not for changing magnetic fields. For that you need mu metal and it is not very effective. Besides, a Faraday cage tends to have openings – like a screen or bird cage frame and openings are openings for the EMP. A metal shield is simply going to have the varying magnetic field generate eddy currents and that can create varying magnetic fields inside the enclosure.
Fortunately, most of the problems will be associated with longer wires and antennas. Disconnect a transformer from the power grid and it will be safe during an event strong enough to fry it if still attached. Equipment not plugged in to the power or other cables will be much more likely to survive than those that are.
As an example, a very long wire located a thousand feet from a major lightning strike can have peak currents approaching a thousands amps and this is not really the equivalent of an EMP and doesn’t contain the high frequencies a atomic bomb EMP would create.
Some ultra bad news is that it is possible to create a small EMP bomb without having to have a nuke bomb which could damage equipment over as much as a few city blocks.
It’s all a matter of energy density as to whether something is damaged. It takes a lot of energy to melt heavy transformer wiring, either wire or insulation. Pick the wrong spot to zap inside a cell phone and the electrical energy generated by walking across a carpet on a dry day is fully capable of ruining it. EMPs are very good at getting energy into just about everywhere.
Solar events have lots of energy even compared to atomic bombs.
Note that surge protectors similar to what is available in power strips offers a great deal of help for a lot of equipment but these sorts of things are of limited benefit.
The best thing that can be done for something like the power grid is to take everything off line while the event is happening. That requires knowing when the CME is coming. An EMP bomb will not have that but it will not have the energy available to damage most of the transformers even if it were capable of damaging or destroying most computers in the lower 48.
Back during Rita/Katrina emergencys, there was something like an x19 or x28 event. It took out HF radio communications for a couple of hours but did not damage normal (unprotected) radio equipment which was in operation at that time. This was either the largest flare ever measured with modern measurement equipment or it was at least one of the top 3. While Leif’s 1921 event might have been as substantial as the Carrington event, there hasn’t been anything like it since the invention of the transistor. His value of x-45 may be correct but I don’t think those events are merely twice that of the recent one. I thought the X-value scale was a log scale rather than linear.
Those big transformers are produced only a few a year. Assuming civilization hangs together, it would take years to replace all the damaged ones at anything close to the current production rate. With copper shortages, etc., and a severely damaged electronic infrastructure alternative approaches would probably be necessary. Perhaps locally generated power with a far more limited supply would likely be the result.
Since I’ve no desire to live in a post civilization wasteland, I hope we do not experience either the EMP bomb or the Carrington sized CME direct hit.

cba

oops above post was quoting jauthororiginal – but that didn’t copy into the text box.

cba

500 yr events seem to be radically underestimated sometimes. 500yr flood plains might tend to flood in more like 50yr time frames.

Bill Jamison

I just want another geomagnetic storm big enough for me to see it from down here in San Diego. I was so shocked and surprised the one time I saw the aurora and still think it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t imaging how our modern society would deal with a Carrington type event!

highflight56433

The bats and swallows will enjoy the bugs that bloom from the dead bodies crawling with maggots. 🙂