Sunday, July 14, 2013

Washington Post presents major article on dangers to power grid from space weather

The Washington Post  Business section Sunday led off with a front page story by Brad Plumer, "When Space Weather Attacks", link here.

This is the first major article I have seen in a "mainstream" newspaper that takes this potential threat to our way of life this seriously.  The Washington Times has discussed it before, as have some conservative politicians, especially Newt Gingrich, mentioned in the article.

I have tweeted about this to the Post and WJLA before.  I wonder if that helped.

The article suggests that power could be out for months or a year for some sections of the Northeastern US (especially NYC) were a "Carrington" sized event to occur.

Utilities say they will have much more robust infrastructure built in about four years.

A Carrington-sized coronal mass ejection may have missed Earth by only a week in July,  2012. And 2013 and 2014 are supposed to be the most active solar years.

One major problem is that there are simply not enough large transformers in the US on hand, and they are difficult to transport.  Many transformers are made in India and Mexico.  Making more of them in the US, especially close to population centers, sounds like a major homeland security issue to me.  The Obama administration seems to be waking up to this, and takes it more seriously than EMP.

Utilities have ways to redirect some power to reduce the effect of geomagnetic storms and "ground shorts".  The article really did not understand how this would work.

There might be only about 30 minutes notice from satellites that a severe coronal mass ejection from a solar storm (or "solar flare" -- a bit of a misnomer) was coming.

The aftermath could have enormous social and economic effects.  Would people in less affected areas be expected to house those less fortunate with "radical hospitality"?

Would the Weather Channel produce a "severe solar storm warning" like a tornado warning?

See the "Book Review" of Maloof's "A Nation Forsaken"  April 13, 2013

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