NASA Plans for Large Scale Failure, Power Grid is “Particularly Vulnerable to Bad Space Weather”

by | Jun 7, 2010 | Emergency Preparedness | 19 comments

Do you LOVE America?


    Solar FlareFor many it’s either tin foil conspiracy theory or an action packed Hollywood Armageddon flick. For the National Aeronautics and Space Administration it’s a serious threat, with the potential to wipe out the technologically driven lives we’ve become so used to.

    Our sun is approaching a period of high turbulence, referred to as the solar maximum, with many scientists suggesting a peak in activity around 2013. The cycle occurs every 11 years, and the next time around it is predicted to be one of the weakest in decades. However, some contrary opinions hold that the next solar maximum may be stronger than we expect, citing a 26,000 year galactic alignment cycle, scheduled to occur on or around 2012, eerily coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar.

    One organization that isn’t taking any chances is NASA. As the sun begins to awaken, scientists are keeping a close eye on space weather:

    “The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.”

    The National Academy of Sciences framed the problem two years ago in a landmark report entitled “Severe Space Weather Events—Societal and Economic Impacts.” It noted how people of the 21st-century rely on high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

    A 132-page NASA funded report titled Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts, suggests that the right magnitude storm could be devastating:

    The problem begins with the electric power grid. “Electric power is modern society’s cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend,” the report notes. Yet it is particularly vulnerable to bad space weather. Ground currents induced during geomagnetic storms can actually melt the copper windings of transformers at the heart of many power distribution systems. Sprawling power lines act like antennas, picking up the currents and spreading the problem over a wide area. The most famous geomagnetic power outage happened during a space storm in March 1989 when six million people in Quebec lost power for 9 hours.

    According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness. In recent years, utilities have joined grids together to allow long-distance transmission of low-cost power to areas of sudden demand. On a hot summer day in California, for instance, people in Los Angeles might be running their air conditioners on power routed from Oregon. It makes economic sense—but not necessarily geomagnetic sense. Interconnectedness makes the system susceptible to wide-ranging “cascade failures.”

    To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with “water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on.”

    “The concept of interdependency,” the report notes, “is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power–and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site.”

    see caption

    What if the May 1921 superstorm occurred today? A US map of vulnerable transformers with areas of probable system collapse encircled. A state-by-state map of transformer vulnerability is also available: click here.

    The potential for major disruptions to our lives and our modern day just-in-time delivery systems could lead to total chaos in affected areas:

    “A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions,” the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.

    Had the report(s) come from a random SHTF Planning and Preparedness site, we could understand skepticism from the general public. But, since the warnings are coming from NASA, we suggest that citizens interested in preserving their well being, safety and security take note.

    While the Quebec incident was a short-term, nine hour down-grid scenario, the US power grid is very much susceptible to a cascading, domino effect across our electrical infrastructures. As suggested by NASA, this would not be limited to your inability to watch television or turn on the lights, but could be much more widespread, affecting critical utility and transportation systems that deliver our food and fuel.

    It is quite reasonable to suggest that any significant adverse solar weather event could lead to mass chaos across the entire country as people scramble to acquire necessities like food, water, medicine and secure shelter.

    And if the response from our federal, state and local government officials is anything like Hurricane Katrina or the BP oil spill, an event of such magnitude may take weeks, perhaps months to mitigate.


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      1. NASA is the same crew that generates totally contrived computer animated Martian colonies as propaganda for funding hyper-expensive manned space missions.

        You have to remember that behind every “threat scenario” coming out of NASA or Homeland Security or DoD or wherever, are a bunch of government programs (and associated contractors) looking for funding.

        The easiest way for a government program to get money is to scare people shitless no matter how implausible the actual threat.  E.g., “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Remember Y2K?  Marketing fear is how they sell their stories.

        • Scared and stupid = malleable and pliable populace. You can by anything if you can pay the price.

      2. While we shouldn’t take all warnings from NASA seriously,we should consider the threat of an EMP by China  if we do something stupid like attacking Iran/North Korea/Pakistan.
        Remember,China has a 100 billion,25 year gas contract w/Iran and I don’t think that the Chinese would like to lose that to the US ground forces like we cancelled their Iraqi oil contracts after we invaded there in 03.
        China also has ICBM’s capable of delivering EMP assaults or standard city buster nukes.
        Just in case,I have a pitcher pump water well on my property,oil lamps,perhaps a years supply of food(which can be increased dramatically at a moments notice if things get spooky).
        At this time,you could shut off all my power and water and I can remain in my home,I think that is going to be the objective of a prudent planner,especially since the alternative is some FEMA camp living amongst hordes of hungy,nasty,pissed off people…
        No thanks!

      3. The 1921 Superstorm Model is interesting because it has occurred before, and if it occurs again now, it could have a big impact. It could be that even more powerful storms have occurred in the past when humankind did not have the technology to measure it.  Meaning the 1921 storm may not be the largest, or most powerful; only the most powerful that we have measured.

        The Bible Codes mention “solar flares” for 2012. As solar flares occur all the time, these must be different. Maybe CME’s.

      4. While preparation can be prompted by consideration of a specific scenario or event, perhaps it is easier to digest if you merely consider a given effect you should absolutely avoid and prepare for that. For example, rather than prep for a solar storm, you prep for protracted power outage – with alternative sources for water, heat/ac, light, cooking, etc.

        Steve, while Y2K was much ado about nothing, the redundancy planning & implementation that went into that ‘event’ was what kept the U.S. Financial Services industry intact on 9/11. Because of Y2K all of the major banks had offsite DR, independent power, and an emergency plan when Manhattan was struck – which they often did not have prior to Y2K. This made a huge difference in the rapid resumption of financial transactions following 9/11.

        Regarding your critical infrastructure – note the word ‘critical’. Sooner or later something disruptive or even catastrophic happens.  Being without critical infrastructure can be pretty, er, critical. Ignore it at your peril. But don’t expect to use mine….

      5. Tom, my point is that the marketing tack for the “Security Industrial Complex” is like the Military Industrial Complex, too much is never enough.  And they too can generate fear scenarios till the cows come up.

        Because that’s how they make their money.  By taking ours…

        P.S. They also count on people not recognizing that dollars spent on hyper-lockdown security are dollars not spent on something else that may be more worthwhile.

      6. There’s a lot of conjecture about the death star Nibiru passing by/through our solar system and the effect it will have.  This event to coincide with the Mayan date December 21, 2012.   At the same time our solar system will be on equatorial plane of our galaxy.  Now if you can imagine the gravitational pull of Nibiru (the size of Jupiter), plus the alignment of the solar system to the galaxys’ equitorial plane and that it might possibly elongate the planets and sun in our solar system it’s not implausible that this will cause major earth changes, intense solar flares, and the like.  Large solar flares could have the effect of EMP on the side of the planet Erath that would have the misfortune of facing the Sun in it’s 24 hour rotational cycle. It’s even possible the Earths’ axis will change, rotation stopped for a period of days, and rotation reversed.    But don’t take my word for it, do your own research.  

        I think we can be assured the United States government elites would never tell the citizen’s of such a cataclysmic possibility as they are too worried about saving their own asses, not ours.   
        They know it’s coming, that’s why the government and business elites are preparing their deep underground bunkers for their own protection.   The citizens be damned.        
        Suggest you tie all the above to what biblical prophesy says about the ‘end of the age’ and it all comes together quite nicely. 

      7. Hi Steve,

        Regarding too much is never enough, I understood that  but thanks for being clear. And I think it’s safe to say that everyone makes their money by taking someone else’s. In this case I understand you to mean ‘in excess and without fair exchange’. However again, if,  as I pointed out occurred as a result of Y2K, a real whopper of a catastrophy is averted due to this possible boondoggle, then I’m a booster. In all honesty, I’m almost completely desensitized to the likelihood of graft (as probably exists every large public project) and consider (hope for) the ultimate benefit should the S really HTF (plus, I’d rather see the money go for something like this than, say, Vikram Pandit’s retirement account). Lety’s face it, neither NASA nor the Military comes close to matching the Fed when it comes to picking our pockets…… 

        That said, I saw another initiative mentioned recently that will no doubt make  solar storm preps a veritable bargain: Near Earth Object (NEO) detection & avoidance. Presumably it was the lack of the aforementioned avoidance bit that sent the dinosaurs packing. Apparently avoidance is the really expensive part………


      8. TomOTN: NEO objects present a clear and present danger and not much is being done about it. Its a global responsibility and every nation ought to ante up for it. Just a few months ago, a serious sized rock passed between our communications satelites and earth. There was only eight days notice before it passed by. Big enough to take out a city, which is bad news if it is your city!

        Paul Revere: I never thought much about, or put too much stock in the Niribu Theory. Thought it was way too far out for even me; but out of curiosity ran it through the Bible Codes.

        It was there.

      9. … citing a 26,000 year galactic alignment cycle …
        … eerily coinciding with the end of the Mayan calendar …

        Does Chicken Little believe Santa Claus, UFO’s, crop circles and the Easter Bunny will all hoard Gold during this deflationary collapse?  Buy high my friends.

        Since NASA is out of the shuttle business, suppose NASA will get in kahoots with AlGore, now that he is a swinging single and will want to spend trillions just like a drunkin President.

        … citing a 26,000 year galactic alignment cycle … BAHAHA

      10. When I saw the movie “2012” last year I marveled at the computer generated images of cataclysmic events that destroyed civilization as we know it.
        But the biggest message I got out of the movie was this:

        If such an event were to occur the government would combine their efforts with other governments, and the wealthy elite, in an attempt to save themselves.

        All efforts to prepare for this would also include keeping the general public in the dark and stripping countries of as much wealth as possible to build their contingency plan.

        “Our efforts are to insure the survival of the human species”, will become the ‘ catch phrase ‘ to justify their actions.

        If we as a species were to face an apocalyptic/extinction level event, then there is no doubt a massive die-off  of all species might occur. If you did manage to survive the initial event, your preparations may determine how long you exist after such an event.Regardless of it being manmade or a natural disaster those who survive may face unimaginable challenges.

        Here’s something to ponder : Anyone with access to the locations of people who comment on websites such as this would also have access to their preps.That is, if the prepper died and their preps remained intact. I’m sure many survivalist read but don’t post for this very reason. 🙂

      11. You are not fooling me TomOfTheNorth! Some people look for snipes. Some for mushrooms. I think you are down there looking for neutrinos!

        If you find one lying around down there, its got to be worth BIG bucks!

      12. zukadu,

        I’ve always been something of a muon man……


        – TOTN

      13. TomOTN: I always had you pegged as a Z particle man myself, maybe a W but propably a Z 🙂


      14. It’s elementary zukadu – I’m sorta negative, subatomic and somewhat unstable. Ergo, I’m a muon man. A pox on the antimuons!

      15. Hello… someone has failed in their very first attempt at an hypothsis. The “copper windings melting temperture required to melt these size cables is so high (it takes more then 150 degrees to melt your household wires) that all life will melt first.  None of us will be alive to miss our ipods. As an engineer who worked with many of these so called “power grid transformers” the “so called interlink” that everyone sweats about is no more connected then a block or two at a time. Check you area when there is a power outage. Your panicking because you don’t really understand how it all works. We are not “as connected” as you think. Look around outside when you have a power outage and see where all the houses are dark. Thats you area. Your not connected to the next area. If you were – they would be able to turn you on using the next neighborhoods power and that doesn’t happen. If they can’t turn you on then the connections do not exist.
        And by the way, traffic lights are not all tied together either.
        They are not in sync for more then a few blocks, as that can be done but it is more expensive then it is worth. You would have to connect athe same circuits over a huge area, voltage drops make that size wire too large to do for too long.  
        You guys are worring about things for no reason. Instead of worring try checking into how electric grids really work and don’t listen to old wives tales. They’ll keep you up at night.
        The real grid to worry about is the internet. When we let it take over then it can be shut off at the drop of a hat. When you allow that to control everything, then you make a shut down possible. Be very afraid of that. Solar flares are far more worrisome then a power grid failure.

      16. There are many more reasons to purchase your gown online from any of the sites but, I feel the orient custom made dresses are an ideal choice. You can also find accessories to match your dress such as purses, jewelry and hairpins.

      17. What’s the President Of Planet Earth (POPE), have to say about all this…”when the world is in pain, Rome drinks champagne.”


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