The Portland Preparedness Center
It’s about time you had a disaster preparedness plan. In fact, it’s time the whole country got into national disaster preparedness.
Well, it’s really strange.
At least two years ago NOAA and NASA in the US were saying we’d reach a solar peak sometime in 2013 or early 2014 and this could result in a solar storm that would cause the entire grid to go down.
That caused a lot of people to hurry up and get a disaster preparedness kit.
NASA even went so far as to put up a special YouTube video exhorting all its employees to make sure they were well prepared for a possible long-term situation….although they didn’t say exactly what that could be, so it could’ve been a solar storm, loss of the grid, or even an earthquake or some other natural disaster.
Now, via the UK newspaper The Telegraph online, we learn that the international insurance firm Lloyds of London, and America’s AER (Atmospheric and Environmental Research) have come out with a study that says there won’t be a peak till 2015.
Let’s hope they’re right. It gives us more time to think about our own preparedness for disaster.
Unfortunately, when it happens, there is the risk of “a catastrophic solar storm that would leave countries including the United Kingdom and United States without electricity for days or even months.”
Well, that’s the same scenario we’ve reported several times, the only difference being that we’ve now, supposedly, had a reprieve for a few months, perhaps even a year.
As The Telegraph says, “A solar storm occurs when magnetic fields “loop” out of sunspots, releasing huge amounts of energy. These bursts of “plasma”, a superheated, electrically-charged gas, could enter the Earth’s own magnetic field and
eventually, disrupt networks dependent on electricity on the ground.
“Huge surges of electricity flowing unexpectedly into telephone lines, the National Grid and transport networks would overwhelm them, resulting in widespread power failures.
“The total cost of such a scenario today in Europe and North America is estimated by Lloyd’s at $2.6 trillion (£1.67tr) for a five-month blackout period, though it could be as low as $0.6tr (£0.39tr).
“According to the report, Earth is overdue for such an event, which would normally be expected every 150 years.
“The model used to map the effects of an extreme solar storm is that of the so-called “Carrington Event” of 1859.
“In August of that year, a solar storm reportedly destroyed telegraph wires in North America and Europe, giving operators electric shocks and knocking out the telegraph network as far away as Australia and Asia for two days. However, this was an age before every aspect of life in Western nations was dependent on electricity.
“According to the report, “The duration of these outages will depend largely on the availability of spare replacement transformers.
“If new transformers need to be ordered, the lead-time is likely to be a minimum of five months.”
Neil Smith, Research Manager at Lloyd’s of London, explained: “They are very limited in terms of numbers of replacements and manufacturing new transformers takes quite a long period of time, up to almost two years.
“These are huge pieces of equipment. Building and transporting it is a huge job. This could take weeks, even years, in the event of a really big storm. Widespread social unrest could follow as citizens scrambled for resources. It could be quite frightening.”
“In the event of a solar storm, systems for controlling the flight path of airplanes would stop, potentially grounding entire fleets. Satellites that power the world’s telecoms networks would be knocked out, and if enough generators were overwhelmed schools would close and hospital patients reliant on electrical equipment would be put at risk.
“Mr Smith explained that though the government possesses some backup transformers, “there are some but not enough” for a Carrington-style event.
“The worst affected areas would be coastal in the United States and Britain, he said, and depended on the direction of the sun. In the United States this might include New York City, Washington DC and areas on the Gulf coast. More specific modelling for Britain has not yet been attempted.
“Mr Smith added that the government should look at the shortage of transformers at a “national or international level” to ensure more of them are available as backup, and consider “hardening” of infrastructure.
“The Canadian government has spent $1.2bn (£0.77bn) on capacitors that can block massive surges of electricity after Quebec was hit by a solar storm in 1989. The Quebecois power system was knocked out in two minutes, the effects of which costed C$13.2bn (£8.27bn).”
Whether it’s 2013, 2014 or 2015 when the sun reaches the peak of this solar cycle, IF such a solar storm does erupt, and IF it is earth-directed, all the above is very likely to happen.
But don’t expect your neighbors or anyone else to take this information very seriously. Very few people do. Which is why so few are prepared for anything at all. Natural disaster preparedness seems to be the last thing on most people’s minds.
Then again there are those who put their focus into disaster preparedness training.
Are you one of them?
If so – and if you decide to move ahead further with some emergency disaster preparedness, check out our website at www.getreadyportland.com, or come visit us at The Portland Preparedness Center, Cnr of 72nd and Glisan in Portland, Oregon.
We don’t sell video only, in fact the only one we do sell is called “Contact Has Begun” (made here in the Pacific Northwest, and I directed it myself so it’s gotta be good:-) along with everything you need for personal and family disaster management…..but if you don’t visit us before you need your emergency supplies, “you’ll be sorry.”