Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Does the Next Geomagnetic Storm Spell Doom For the U.S.?

From an article in the NY Times written by Kenneth Chang

The worst geomagnetic storm in recorded history happened in 1859.  Sol sent out billions of tons of electrons and protons that slammed into Earth's magnetic fields setting up currents in telegraph wires that shocked the operators and even set nearby paper on fire!

If such a storm hit now in the 21st century, it would have the potential to do much greater harm.   First are the communications and GPS satellites would be damaged or scrambled along with communications and power grids on the surface.  

Millions of people would be affected by a country wide blackout, but according to a non profit company created and funded by the utilities to manage the country's power grids, most of the power could be brought back online in a week.  

Other experts are more pessimistic.  They feel that many components in the grid would be damaged beyond repair.  Some areas would be without power for months while others would experience 
chronic shortages  that would last for years.

These huge storms are impossible to predict and even harder to know if the earth would be in the path.  What is known is that the more sun-spot activity, the more storms.  Such activity has been light so far this season, but this fall the Sun is set to reach the high point of the sun spot 11 year cycle. 

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