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This morning I wrote a diary on yesterday's enormous solar flare, with an X-ray magnitude of X6.9 on the GOES scale, that erupted with a coronal mass ejection, in a direction away from earth. Sun Ejects Most Powerful Solar Flare In Five Years, See Video.

I promised the many commenters who asked what might happen if such an eruption occurred in our direction, that I would research this question. It turns out that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, not only has thought this through, but predicts that we could have solar eruptions strong enough to disrupt power grids, GPS, air travel, and communication in the next four years, in an article released this evening.

IB Times Staff Reporter writes Bigger Solar Flares Could Cause Year-Long Blackouts, Nuclear Crisis

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted Earth could be hit by at least four gigantic solar storms in the next couple of years, which could cause global disruptions in GPS systems, power grids, satellite communications, and airline communications.

The NOAA predicted four “extreme” solar emissions which could threaten the planet this decade, while NASA has warned that a peak in the sun's magnetic energy cycle and the number of sun spots or flares around 2013 could cause extremely high radiation levels. ...

Federal Government studies have shown that extreme solar activity could cause complete blackouts for years in vast tracts of the country. More alarmingly, there could be disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers. ...

According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, nuclear plants in the country affected by a blackout have procedures to keep the reactor and spent-fuel pool cool only for a limited time of 72 hours.

Yikes!  This is astonishing, and frightening. So much so, that I'm searching for additional verification. The IB source looks reputable, and seems to specialize in NOAA, and NASA reports.  

Also, many other commenters thought the sun was entering a period of dormancy. Not according to the NOAA. "With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active period and big flares like the recent one will likely be common during the next few years."

Yesterday's solar flare rated a  X6.9 on the GOES scale used to rate solar flare intensity.  

"This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in extreme ultraviolet light at 131 Angstroms. Photo credit: NASA/AP"

Extensive long-term disruption of power grids, and telecommunications could wreak havoc on our nations 104 nuclear plants, which now only have procedures to generate on-site power to cool reactor cores and spent-fuel pond cool for 72 hours. This alarming situation needs immediate attention, as we have seen in Fukushima what the consequences of meltdowns can be.  

The NOAA predicts four extreme solar flares capable of causing these kinds of consequences will be released in earth's direction in the next 10 years!

Moreover, a nuclear plant without grid power is a recipe for disaster, as it will potentially go through a process of meltdown. It is also observed that the part of the country predicted to be affected by the solar storms host considerable number of reactors.

Once the spent fuel rod pools at the country's 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the pools could boil over, exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation.

The article goes on to point out that the back-up batteries, and generators designed to keep nuclear plants cooling systems going during blackout, are only designed and supplied for 72 hours, not years of being off-grid.

Holy smokes, folks,

I'm not making this stuff up.

This is not the plot of a new TV Sci-Fi horror film, this is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

We are lucky to have this heads up, before any such events occur. We need to hear from the NRC immediately, what their view and state of preparation for such scenarios is at the moment.

We do need to take these longer-term threats more seriously.

And, prepare better responses for such worst-case scenarios.

I will write more about this tomorrow as I have more time to do more research, and assimilate this new data.  

Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:31 PM PT: Mrsgoo provides us with this link confirming the estimate of a potential global blackout for more than a year.

Historical CMEs in Comparison

On 13 March 1989, a CME knocked out power to the entire Canadian province of Quebec for nine hours.  Back on 1-2 September 1859, a “Solar Superstorm” caused the failure of telegraph systems all across Europe and North America.  Auroras were reportedly seen as far south as Hawaii and the Caribbean!  The world today is way more dependent on electricity than back in 1859.  An event similar to 1859 occurring today could create a major setback to the high-tech countries and could result in a global blackout that could last up to a year.  This recent flare was rated a Class X2, which is on the low end of the X scale and will not fall into a “worst-case scenario”.   The latest from NASA indicates that the bulk of the CME is going to pass just behind us, putting Earth on the edge.  Earth is a very small target in space.  We will certainly have to keep monitoring our Sun for future solar storms as we approach the solar maximum over the next several years.

1:08 PM PT: Hi Folks.  Sorry for the delay in responding to comments, My SO appears to have developed a blood clot in her leg as a complication of her knee replacement surgery this last weekend.

So, I've been taking care of her and we're now at the hospitcal getting medical imaging.

I really appreciate the over 300 comments and will respond to each and every question, but I'll have to wait until I get back, as I can only be on this computer a few minutes.

Thanks so much for you interest in this subject.  

Originally posted to SciTech on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos, Nuclear Free DK, and Kosowatt.

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  •  Tip Jar (274+ / 0-)
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    Major Tom, marleycat, susie dow, Mary Mike, bythesea, DaveVH, Ray Pensador, Ckntfld, tb92, boophus, neroden, WheninRome, Jim P, palantir, capelza, ZhenRen, ninkasi23, blueoasis, LaughingPlanet, Dude1701, CA ridebalanced, SoCalSal, defluxion10, SCFrog, ladybug53, pixxer, Andhakari, markthshark, Justina, churchylafemme, KVoimakas, WisePiper, Louisiana 1976, Carlo, bluesheep, Executive Odor, Reel Woman, asym, BuckMulligan, Faroutman, Horsefeathers, ogre, Lorikeet, tharu1, philipmerrill, progressivebadger, clambake, jennifree2bme, ArtemisBSG, SlightKC, eeff, jennyp, birddog, G2geek, Larsstephens, tovan, cassidy3, alizard, koNko, petral, worldlotus, expatjourno, flowerfarmer, OrdinaryIowan, BarackStarObama, dance you monster, bablhous, Grannus, NJpeach, Brit, drewfromct, teabaggerssuckbalz, Matt Z, roses, ccmask, yuriwho, MKSinSA, ChemBob, cevad, Loonesta, Creosote, Ezekial 23 20, Hear Our Voices, spooks51, OleHippieChick, jeanette0605, gchaucer2, yaque, nswalls, Angie in WA State, Pandoras Box, Stripe, angelajean, not4morewars, jhop7, copymark, envwq, Orinoco, ProfessorWho, davelf2, LarisaW, Babsnc, Captain Chaos, gramofsam1, J M F, Jodster, anafreeka, Bluebirder, Fe, Wee Mama, sphealey, Ana Thema, Only Needs a Beat, Nowhere Man, jfromga, moira977, MKinTN, GreyHawk, Crashing Vor, CT yanqui, Flying Goat, Don Quixote, SkylarkingTomFoolery, UFOH1, PragmaticPrinciples, myboo, leftywright, edsbrooklyn, nzanne, DamselleFly, Matilda, Teiresias70, Snud, real world chick, JamieG from Md, Blue Boy Red State, sleipner, politik, bronte17, jnhobbs, Colorado is the Shiznit, native, Aquarius40, solesse413, RubDMC, stunzeed, qannabbos, raines, satanicpanic, Habitat Vic, Troubadour, Xapulin, Joe Bob, deepsouthdoug, PeterHug, Horace Boothroyd III, boofdah, kevinpdx, rb608, Crabby Abbey, claude, cotterperson, Paul Ferguson, DeadB0y, doingbusinessas, chrississippi, Wolf10, Joieau, Powered Grace, mconvente, Bionic, westyny, mamamedusa, Statusquomustgo, Simplify, bear83, wxorknot, Oh Mary Oh, Railfan, Mr Robert, tacet, dotsright, sillia, Milly Watt, DEMonrat ankle biter, seeta08, maxzj05, Rhysling, Catte Nappe, elfling, Keone Michaels, DRo, kurious, Tolmie Peak, soaglow, notdarkyet, montressor, Mimikatz, willibro, Kinak, pat bunny, LillithMc, Jimdotz, sostos, Imhotepsings, Kentucky Kid, freesia, millwood, KayCeSF, alkalinesky, SuWho, Ice Blue, old wobbly, blue aardvark, GrannyOPhilly, gloriana, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, Sylv, livingthedream, PhilJD, IndieGuy, psilocynic, ipaman, Temmoku, Steven D, roystah, foucaultspendulum, TofG, Tinfoil Hat, jazzizbest, Goobergunch, Russgirl, ClickerMel, bibble, zerelda, Cliss, Aaa T Tudeattack, cacamp, nonnie9999, chimpy, subtropolis, Karl Rover, pensivelady, Involuntary Exile, ColoTim, South Park Democrat, Louise, sharonsz, Marie, rovertheoctopus, collardgreens, side pocket, DebtorsPrison, coolbreeze, regis, Ptown boy in NC, BachFan, oldliberal, Sean Robertson, high coup haiku, Farugia, smokem2271, turn blue, Calamity Jean, Potus2020, Andrew Spagnoli, roonie, terabytes, Catskill Julie, slathe, California06, FarWestGirl, evergreen2, Sharoney

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:17:42 PM PDT

    •  Yes, isn't Susie Dow. (27+ / 0-)

      What was that quote of Albert Einstein?  

      Something like

      'Religion and science are united in their essence at leaving us inspired in awe of the magnitude of the universe.'

      Those aren't his exact words, which is why I used "half-quotes."

      Thanks for commenting susie.  

      At this last hour I cherish and appreciate every comment.


      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:50:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I'd love to know from you Hounddog (20+ / 0-) solar activity therefore regular and cyclical: I seem to remember some researcher trying to correlate economic cycles to sunspot activity.

        Apart from electromagnetic disruption, does sunspot activity also influence climate? Could it be responsible for rising food prices through droughts or floods?

        Fascinating subject, and a great diary

        It makes me very wary of our increasing dependence on electronic networks - including this one. The 'just in time' society seems to have little tolerance for blackouts and electrical failure.

        "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

        by Brit on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:07:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  they are cyclical (6+ / 0-)

          and the cycle of flare-ups we're in now culminates in....wait for it....2012!

          : 0

          My goal is to make the world safe for anarchy. - 4Freedom

          by Cedwyn on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:21:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Sunspot activity (8+ / 0-)

          does appear to influence our climate.

          "The Little Ice Age." occurred from the 1300's to the mid 1800's. The Maunder Minimum is believed to only add to what was occuring climate wise.

          The Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715 had very low sunspot activity.

          Crops failed in many parts of the world and in addition there was the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. The following year in 1816 is often referred to as "the year without a summer."1816


          "The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism." Sir William Osler

          by wxorknot on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:17:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've seen the year 1816 described as (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            "eighteen hundred and froze to death" in some old documents.

            "Who is John Galt?" A two dimensional character in a third rate novel

            by Inventor on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:29:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You're suggesting Mount Tambora's eruption (0+ / 0-)

            may have been related to Sun Spot activity?  Do you have any kind of link to support that?

            •  Perhaps I should have been (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              California06, FarWestGirl

              clearer in mentioning Tambora.

              Mount Tambora was an additional stimulus to the overall cooling of the climate at the end of the "little ice age."

              I thought it worth mentioning because it really had a profound effect on the climate during that period.

              Volcanic activity has not been, nor will it ever have any determination on sunspot activity.

              On the other hand, if there is a link supporting that correlation, we can have a good laugh.

              "The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism." Sir William Osler

              by wxorknot on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:08:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, there is at least some correlation (6+ / 0-)

          But it's kinda weird. There's a shift in winds near the tropics every two years known as the QBO (quasi-biennial oscillation).

          When the stratospheric winds are blowing west (the "west phase"), but not so much when blowing east (the "east phase"), there is a correlation between the solar cycle and the weather. For example, during the QBO west phase, Atlantic hurricanes tend to stay closer to the equator when the solar cycle is near its peak than when it's near its minimum.

          We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

          by Samer on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:43:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for the great question Brit. Please forgive (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brit, California06

          my delayed response as I had to take my friend to the several doctors early this morning and we are now in Newton-Wellesley hospital, where I have but just a few minutes to check in, while she's getting imaging done on her leg.  

          She just had a knee replacement surgery earlier in the week, and something has gone wrong.

          This is not my areas of scientific expertise, so I can only tell you that I've read several articles suggesting that the solar cycles may have an influence, but I don't think it is fully understood, or documented.

          Apparently, there may also be longer period cyclicality as well.  

          Let me research it some and get back to you and all the other folks who are asking such excellent questions.

          Only, it doesn't not look like I will get to this tonight, as my partner needs to take priority.  

          Sorry, for the delay.

          BTW I've really been impressed with you series of reports on the Fall of Murdoch.

          I spent hours on one story a while back and just as posted it I saw your which seems like you were dancing in the stars by comparision to my plodding straight "slap and clap" story.  I'm studying your writing for lessons in style, and sort of honored you've dropped in,

          I hope I don't miss this chance to chat with you.

          But, I need to run, as my friend, is calling.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:16:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let's chat later, yes... (0+ / 0-)

            ...and look after your friends. There can be all kinds of post operative complications, especially with knee surgery (happened to a friend of mine) so get back to me: I hope it turns out to be a scare and nothing more. Do keep us posted.

            "It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us." Walter Benjamin. More sane debate on the Moose

            by Brit on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:50:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh My Word! (0+ / 0-)

            Pray do attend to your friend first.  Priorities, you know (not snark).  

            Next, thanks for this great diary.  Whilst this is not your stated area of expertise, your knowledge far outruns mine.  Pursuant to that, what would be the effect of this event (or series of events) on solar panels?

      •  I just finished a great (6+ / 0-)

        history book about quantum physics and all the physicists who fought epic battles over the atom and quanta. fascinating stuff, and extremely well written.
        QUANTUM, by Manjit Kumar

        Superb book, highly recommended.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:07:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Links to Reliable Sources Verifying Threat (11+ / 0-)

        Most talk about months instead of years, but once the grid is down for months in major, heavily populated regions of our country, a good part of the damage would have been done.

        (As a side note, when you realize the true magnitude of what that damage would be, the worst problems that could occur with nuclear plants fall way down the list in ranking the threats, and I say that as someone who vervently advocates for addressing the risk of extended loss of offsite power for nuclear plants.  If you don't have and cannot get food, water, essential medicine and health care or adequate temperature controlled shelter, radiation turns into a lesser, longer term threat for most.)

        In particular, this is the source that will address most broadly many of the issues and questions people have been raising:

        NASA funded study by the National Academy of Sciences entitled Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts. In the 132-page report, experts detailed what might happen to our modern, high-tech society in the event of a "super solar flare" followed by an extreme geomagnetic storm.

        It's available to read online or for free download here.

        A map of the locations of the large transformers most likely at risk can be seen here.

        A graphic showing the interdependencies that make us vulnerable to loss of power is here.

        A couple of article summarizing key points of the study:

        NASA Science Severe Space Weather--Social and Economic ImpactsJanuary 21, 2009: Did you know a solar flare can make your toilet stop working?

        Space storm alert: 90 seconds from catastrophe23 March 2009by Michael Brooks

        A white paper (pdf) from the Swiss insurance giant Swiss Re:

        Space Weather: Hazard to EarthSwiss Re

        An article from a power industry trade magazine:

        The Great Solar Storm of 2012?

        And a more recent NASA Science article:

        Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm June 21, 2011:

        I'll add some more info, including info on the House Bill passed a few years ago as well as industry sponsored studies in a bit.  

        If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:22:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The original link has been removed. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BachFan, HoundDog, FarWestGirl

          The IB Times story has been pulled, although I was able to find a copy of it here.

          I wonder why it was yanked? Too scary?

          They say "cut back" - we say "fight back"!

          by Louise on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:49:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You an also find it (I think) .... (4+ / 0-)

            .... here.

            You know what hope is? Hope is a bastard. Hope is a liar, a cheat and tease. Hope comes near you, kick its backside. It's got no place in days like these.

            by tbetz on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:38:40 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This article raises the issue, but is not the best (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              milton333, Louise, HoundDog

              analysis of it, overstating a threat that needs no overstatement to be exceedingly concerning.

              I've rarely if ever seen "years" of blackout.

              But "months" , once you understand the impact that would have, would be a catastrophic blow to our Country and the unpredictable knock-off events that could follow could take us into 'years' of turmoil and at best a long, hard road back to anything we take for granted as a society today.  

              I'd skip this article and look at some of those I posted above that are based on much more reliable sources and even link to them (a red flag on the IB Times article that refers in a very general way to supposed sources but fails to list or link to them.)

              If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

              by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:47:44 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I've pondered the effect of days without power (4+ / 0-)

                As I swelter through the summer with a toddler at home, I have wondered just how fast we'd have chaos in the streets if the power went out for several DAYS.  We lost power for 13 hours after a storm, and it was miserable to be indoors, and there were no "cooling stations" anywhere in the community, no libraries or stores for escape.

                Food going bad in the fridge and freezer.  No one can process my debit card, so I effectively have no money.  

                Limited information about what's happening - who still has battery-powered or hand-crank radios?  Limited entertainment.  No security system.  No street lights.  

                Pumps not working at the gas station.  Can't buy food at the grocery store.

                If it's wide-spread, no emergency response.

                Honestly, I don't worry about a "zombie apocalypse" so much as I worry about the failure of the power supply in late July and early August.  And I think we're far less prepared to survive "unplugged" for any length of time than our ancestors.

                Thought is only a flash in the middle of a long night, but the flash that means everything - Henri Poincaré

                by milton333 on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:00:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Vulnerability Is Apparently At Both Extremes (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  In low useage/generation and very high useage/generation peaks, the grid is evidently more vulnerable and less resilient - capable of rapid adustments needed to deal with the impacts on the system.

                  But for the effected populations, I think you're absolutely correct, the hotest and coldest times of the year would make the population more vulnerable and the impact of the loss of power more severe.  (Cold would also make repair and recovery more difficult.)

                  Even without this kind of event, power outages have been steadily increasing in both duration and population impacted over the last (?) years.  

                  If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                  by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:31:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  For a lot of folks on medical equipment, even days (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                FarWestGirl, Into The Woods

                could be life-threatening.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:45:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Especially given that no help would be nearby (0+ / 0-)

                  In most disasters, the nearby cities, states or regions rally to come to your aid and equipment or materials that go short in one area are supplemented by equipment or supplies from those untouched areas.

                  If most of the eastern 1/3 of the US was affected, that would be an entirely different game.

                  For those whose medications must be refrigerated, or who are dependent on medical tech that runs on electricity, this would be much, much worse.  

                  If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                  by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:58:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Thank Into the Woods. this is great. Is this your (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FarWestGirl, Into The Woods

            area of expertise?

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:46:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nope. Just another distracting area of interest. (0+ / 0-)

              I've been collecting resources on this threat since the 2009 articles came out.

              Collecting resources on resilience and preparedness for a bit longer.  

              I'm about to post elsewhere in the diary links to a previous series here at DK that you will definitely find of interest from AlphaGeek.  

              I think they ran initially in 2005 or 2006.  

              Reprinted in 2009.  

              If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

              by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:02:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for convering for me Into the Woods. I (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Into The Woods

          spent the whole day at the hosptal looking after my friend.

          She's fine.

          But, I was ubable to follow up here.  Thanks to you and all the other Kossacks who covered the bases for me.

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:44:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  NERC/DOE Report May be Source of "years" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          High-Impact, Low-Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power System
          A Jointly-Commissioned Summary Report of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy’s November  2009 Workshop

          June 2010

          It is not clear, but while the duration of potential grid loss for major portions of the US appears to be consistently stated as "months", chronic shortages could last for "multiple years" according to this 2010 report.

          ...Depending on the location and pattern of the geomagnetic disturbance, there are a number of plausible consequential outcomes for a severe geomagnetic storm of a strength roughly ten times what was observed in 1989.   Metatech conducted a simulation based on a 4800 nT/min disturbance, shown in Figure 11 which calculated the pattern of GIC flows in the U.S. power grid and the boundaries of regions of power grid that could be subject to progressive collapse, such as what occurred to the Québec Interconnection in March 1989. The simulation results indicate that more than a thousand EHV transformers will have sufficient GIC levels to simultaneously be driven into saturation. Further, this would suddenly impose an increase of over 100,000 MVARs of reactive demand on the system, a scenario that could trigger a widespread voltage collapse, resulting in system instability and, likely, a short-duration blackout.61

          The analysis also indicates that the GIC in over 350 transformers will exceed levels where the transformer is at risk of irreparable damage. Figure 12 provides an estimate of “Percent Loss” of EHV transformation capacity by state for the same 4800 nT/min threat environment. Such large scale damage could lead to prolonged restoration and long-term chronic shortages of electricity supply capability to the impacted regions, arguably for multiple years.

          While the electric sector has performed reliably through all K9 storms since the March 1989 by using specialized geomagnetic storm operating procedures, all these storms were much lower in dB/dt intensity than the March 1989 storm. The storms of concern could potentially be four to ten times more intense than March 1989 and could entail the potential for widespread damage to EHV transformers and other key assets of unprecedented proportions.

          This same report goes into more detail about why those transformers and other equipment could be damanged:

          The design of transformers also acts to further compound the impacts of GIC flows in the highvoltage portion of the power grid. While proportionately larger GIC flows occur in these large high-voltage transformers, saturation of EHV transformers occurs at the same level of GIC current as those of lower-voltage transformers. Transformers experience excessive levels of internal heating brought on by stray flux when GICs cause the transformer's magnetic core to saturate and spill flux outside the normal core steel magnetic circuit. Previous well-documented cases have noted heating failures that caused melting and burn-through of large-amperage copper windings and leads in these transformers (Figure 9). These transformers generally cannot be repaired in the field, and if damaged in this manner, need to be replaced with new units, which have manufacture lead times of 12–24 months or more in the world market.  ...

          Severe GMD events can also cause harmonic currents on the system, which, in turn, cause overcurrent relays to trip capacitor banks because capacitors offer a lower impedance path for harmonics. Protection systems can and have operated in direct response to harmonic currents. Therefore, when shunt capacitor and static var compensators trip for over-current protection due to harmonics, it exacerbates system voltage regulation issues caused by the GIC-related increases in transformer reactive power losses. A distorted sinusoidal waveform can also cause HVDC converter commutation failures.56 System frequency can become erratic, and generators, which are not immune to harmonic currents, can be tripped by negative sequence protection systems. Units that do not trip are susceptible to damage from torsional stress or rotor heating. These effects can occur near simultaneously over a large geographic area, resulting in a multiplecontingency outage that has the potential to cascade across the system.

          If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

          by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:46:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I do, too... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cliss, HoundDog

      I find this information particularly interesting, given that there were recent stories on fading sunspots being indicating a reduction in solar activity...  Wonder if there's some relation.

  •  Stocks plummeted today, meanwhile..... (47+ / 0-)

    ...the sun attempted to reach across 93 million miles with a fiery kiss of death.

    I am waiting in my car, I am waiting in this bar, I am waiting on your essence. - Lucinda Williams

    by Bensdad on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:35:18 PM PDT

  •  (1) Shut down the nukes. (37+ / 0-)

    (2) Wrap key transformers in Faraday cages and put fuses at the entrances and exits.

    Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

    by neroden on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:38:27 PM PDT

    •  The transformer problem is well known (37+ / 0-)

      However, nobody has bothered to do anything about it.  There are ways to protect the transformers, they're just all expensive; one can also make stocks of spare transformers and distribute them around the country for quick installation, in case of transformers which are simply damaged.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:40:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You should write this up neroden. This article (36+ / 0-)

        only mentions the nuclear power plants, but do you have any idea how many of us use medical equipment that presummes universal availability of electrical power?

        I have sleep apnea so bad, the only reason I'm still around is I have a BiPap machine set on it's highest setting.

        If the power goes out, I can't allow myself to fall asleep, for fear of apneas cutting off my oxygen supply and spiking my blood pressure to potentially lethal levels.

        I've been meaning to get a super powered lithium-ion battery but they cost like $700.  Now it looks like I'd need my own solar PV installation to feel secure.


        Just when I had a relatively upbeat diary, and published about the markets going up 4% yesterday.

        I was worried, people were thinking I report to many negative stories.

        So, I've been looking for more cheerful one.

        I have found one really cute "kittie helps change a tire video."


        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:58:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  BiPap: what to do about that: (38+ / 0-)

          You need a solar system that is capable of functioning 100% off the grid.  

          The major national solar companies specialize in grid-connected systems, which can be installed quickly and inexpensively almost anywhere.  Those are excellent systems but they don't provide backup power during grid outages.  

          What you need to find is a local solar contractor who will install an off-grid system, which means including a large battery bank to supply power overnight and on cloudy days.

          Also replace your fridge with the most efficient model you can afford.   The fridge is the second largest power user in the home, after whole-house air conditioning.   (#3 is the clothes dryer, which you can easily do without.)   GE makes one of the best available today, with a yearly estimated power consumption of about 300 KWH, which beats the system I built for myself by about 163 KWH/year.  

          The reason for replacing the fridge is that it's less expensive to do than adding yet more battery capacity to deal with an inefficient fridge.

          You want sufficient battery capacity to last three days of zero sunlight.

          Then if a power outage occurs, ruthlessly unplug everything that is not essential to your survival.  

          Net result is that you can probably run the bare essentials for a week of no sunlight: the BiPap machine, the fridge, a couple of compact fluorescent lights, a small radio, the laptop, and the DSL modem/router to connect to the internet.   You can run the clothes washer once or twice a week as well, but do it during the day when there's excess solar capacity available, and save the used laundry water for re-use flushing the toilet from a bucket.  

          I could go on but it's time to sign off for the night....

          •  Thanks g2geek. As always, you seem to be a font (9+ / 0-)

            of knowledge on every subject.  

            Progressive survivialists should also have someone like you areound to act as the substitute for an internet encyclopedia.

            The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

            by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:17:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  G2geek, i want you for a neighbor (10+ / 0-)

              Or maybe mayor of NewHippieTown.

              Many off-grid cabins run completely on propane- gas lights, fridge, propane heaters, cook stoves.

              It would be culture shock for most but the campers and serious hunters are already fully comfortable with the alternatives.

              •  Guess that means we'd (5+ / 0-)

                best get busy digging out that new spring and running the pipes for the ram jet pump to a cistern on the ridge... soon as we can afford the darned cistern. Sigh. It's always something.

              •  cooking is of course the problem.... (4+ / 0-)

                ..... if electricity is your primary energy source, the microwave is the most energy-efficient way to heat food, but this means that the mid-day meal becomes the one with all the hot food in it, and "dinner" should be chosen to require less heating.  

                Otherwise, propane camp stoves or some other source of portable fuel, though it is going to be in scarce supply.

                See also solar ovens:  an inexpensive investment that could make an enormous difference when propane etc. become scarce.  Set it up on your porch or in your back yard, and you can have all the hot food you want when there's sun.  

                •  In my archives of a few months back you can find (4+ / 0-)

                  instructions on Approriate Technology do-it-yourself solar ovens, you can make for under $5.00.  An Indian woman, sells the plans, but also publishes them for free on her website.

                  When I re-establish my next corporate empire, I'm going to set up a foundation to donate money to folks like her.

                  She offers her entire substantial intellectual capital free for all comers for the common good of the world's poor.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:58:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  next corporate empire, eh? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    FarWestGirl, Into The Woods

                    Is that snark or are you actually a VC or otherwise involved in enterprise development?  

                    Reason is, hoo-boy do I know of a damn good investment that's exactly where our hearts are at.   You've already heard of the company and they have track record, but they are not publicly traded (yet).  I can't say more in public but if this interests you, reply to me here and we'll get in touch.  

              •  Good, maybe these will be the folks that propogate (0+ / 0-)

                our species into the next century, while the rest of us are cremated and stored in our microwave ovens.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:55:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  couple other points (12+ / 0-)

              First, size the battery banks based on your desired "days without sun." Three days may be fine in AZ, but in MA, for a life or death system? I'd want 7-10 just to be on the safe side. Remember, "days without sun" can also mean "days covered with snow." If that is a concern, try and put the system where you have access to the panels while there is 3' of snow on the ground/roof so that you can "plow" the PV. Even just getting a corner cleared will allow the panels to heat up and melt off.

              Second, you may want to consider a standalone system, one not connected to the entire house's electrical system but one that ONLY keeps you alive ;)

              Third, if you are rolling in the dough, are a hard-core DIYer with electrical skills, or related to a lic elec, then consider adding emergency back-up circuits where only the things that you need in an emergency are wired into them and the superfluous stuff are on separate ckts. That way, you don't have to remember to unplug everything once the grid goes down.

              Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

              by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:52:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  LED lights in strips are also something to think (8+ / 0-)

                about for critical living spaces.  The power needed is so low you can connect them with speaker wire.  

                If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:44:28 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  yes yes yes, exactly: split your electrical system (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Into The Woods, HoundDog, FarWestGirl

                .... into an "essential" loop and an "everything else" loop.

                However, the benefit of that is only that it makes it "easier" to disconnect nonessential load by throwing one switch.  You can achieve the same results by marking the locations of nonessential devices and unplugging them manually.  

                Other small stuff to remember, since every watt counts:

                Windup alarm clock.  These are still widely available.  

                Crank-powered radio and flashlight.  Freeplay is the best brand for these.  Most have small PVs on them so you can run them directly in the sunlight.  

                •  We should put together the specs for the lowest (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FarWestGirl, Into The Woods

                  cost, but complete surivival kit, to have as a supplement, to our current, aid boxes, that cost around $1,700, I think.  

                  Chlorine tablets can enable to purify water where it is impossible to boil for lack of fuel and can save lives for pennies a tablet.

                  A tremendous number of children die each year from diarhea, measured in millions.  I can't remember the exact number.

                  The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                  by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:04:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  dead children, progressives, Republicans: (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    Grim truth:  Fatal diarrheal disease is one of Ma Nature's ways of dealing with human impact on ecosystems when we don't use birth control.  

                    Yes, we should be coming up with a decent survival kit for progressives to use if the solar disturbances cause a catastrophic grid outage.  For that matter, this is a good idea for other types of natural disasters as well.    

                    But to be terribly blunt about it, we shouldn't be promoting this stuff to Republicans, except where doing so gains us political advantage.   That's terribly crass, but war is war, and they started the class war, the culture war, the sustainability war, and the basic sanity war.  We are under no obligation to help them get back on their feet to attack us again.  

                    •  Well, that's one way to look at it. (0+ / 0-)

                      But one of the main distinctions I've seen between hard-core RW survivalists who are out dancing on the fringe is that they think they can hunker down it the bunker and make it through on their own.

                      Us lefties understand that it's easier to put up a barn with a community helping to make it happen.  

                      Community resilience also happens to breed a sense of community - an understanding that what we have in common we can only keep if we band together as a community.

                      So the different way we approach life is also present in the way we approach preparedness.  

                      Gotta be who you are and all that.

                      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:10:37 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  yes, community resilience. (0+ / 0-)

                        I know John Robb, and we've discussed these things at length.

                        However it's not up to progressives to include Republicans in our community outreach except where there is political gain from doing so.

                        Really now: for example would you contribute to a legal defense fund for Rupert Murdoch, to prevent the human rights spectacle of an 80-year-old man being dragged away in handcuffs and put in a prison cell?   I didn't think so.

                        •  Nope. But if my Republican neighbor and I (0+ / 0-)

                          have a greater probability of surviving any disaster by bonding together, I'll forget politics and opt for surviving.  

                          And if that means 'outreach' before TSHTF, that's what I'll do.  

                          So if there is 'survival' gain, I'll be including anyone who fits that bill, regardless of any other factor.

                          And I'll have to look up John Robb.  

                          If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                          by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:25:54 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Late one autumn evening, a farmer was checking.... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Into The Woods

                            ... his cows.   As he left the barn, he saw a snake shivering in the cold.  "Help me," said the snake, "I'm freezing and I could die out here before I get to my nest!"

                            "But you'll bite me," said the farmer, "that's what snakes do."

                            "No I won't," said the snake, "I just need to warm up.  Put me in your coat, take me in your house, and after I'm warmed up I'll scoot off to my nest."

                            "Oh, OK" said the farmer, and put the snake in his coat.

                            He walked into the house and told his wife he had a freezing snake in his coat.  

                            "But he'll bite you," said his wife, "that's what snakes do."

                            "No he won't," said the farmer, "he just needs to warm up.  So I put him in my coat and took him in the house, and after he's warmed up he'll scoot off to his nest."

                            "Oh, OK," said the farmer's wife.  

                            A half hour later, the snake stuck his head out of the coat and said, "I'm all toasty warm now, so you can put me outside and I'll be off to my nest."

                            The farmer picked up the snake and took him to the door.  As he opened the door, the snake bit him on the hand.

                            "Oww!" said the farmer, as he dropped the snake.  "Why the hell did you do that?  Now I'll have to bandage up my hand and I won't be able to work for the next three days!"

                            "I'm a snake," said the snake, as he slithered out the door and off to his nest, "that's what snakes do!"

                            The moral of the story is, don't go picking up snakes even if they ask for help.  In the end they'll still bite you.  Because that's what snakes do.


                            BTW, John Robb coined the entire set of memes relating to community resilience.  US Air Force Intel, retired.  Also coined a bunch of memes related to global guerrilla movements, 4th-generation warfare, and systems-disruption.  His memes have become a major part of current US defense theory.  He started out more or less libertarian and is now quite the progressive.  Very smart guy.  

                          •  Thanks. Snakes and scorpions. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            I'll have to take a look at Robb.  

                            If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                            by Into The Woods on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 03:23:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                  •  one thing we can easily do is: (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    FarWestGirl, Into The Woods

                    Consider the major national solar companies that install grid-connected solar systems:  Sungevity, Solar City, etc., both of which advertise on dKos.  

                    They are responsible for an enormous increase in residential and commercial solar across the USA and they have vast reach through their ad campaigns and so on.  

                    However, their systems don't include battery banks, because they are designed to be grid-interactive rather than off-grid.  And battery banks for whole-house backup are not necessary when the grid is working, and would only add significant cost to household solar systems.  

                    This is where WE come in.

                    UPSs.  Uninterruptable Power Supplies.  

                    Someone with a grid-connected solar system can easily purchase a set of UPSs for their critical applications.  One for the fridge, one for their computer & internet stuff (DSL modem, router, etc.).  One for their kitchen appliances other than the fridge.  One for their critical medical equipment.  One for their home video/audio system if they choose.  

                    Each of these will require a different type and degree of backup power.  Computer & telecom equipment requires clean sine-wave power.  Lights and motors can use "stepped-wave" or even "square wave" power.  Certain appliances fall into either category; the general rule being that things with microprocessors should have sine-wave power.  

                    Minuteman is the manufacturer best suited to this purpose.


                    So what we should do is compile lists of the appropriate types of UPSs for each application, and promote those lists, along with the names of suppliers who can provide the units.


                    You have one of the major national solar companies install your grid-connected solar system.  

                    You buy a bunch of UPSs to run your various critical household things.  

                    Now if there's a power outage, your solar system will provide enough power during the day (or should, anyway: I know people in the industry and I'll ask them) to charge up your UPSs as well as powering your critical items during the day.  Then at night you use the UPSs to operate various appliances and so on.  

                    The result is the best of both worlds: the lower costs and other benefits of a grid-connected solar system with a solid company backing it, and backup power for your critical loads.

                    What do you think?

                    •  Very good. Integrated approach that is not (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      soley focussed on nor only useful for a low probability event, but is useful and in fact essential if it comes along.

                      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:13:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  turns out i was mistaken. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Into The Woods

                        I talked with someone I know in the solar industry.

                        Grid connected systems are designed to NOT produce power when the grid is down.

                        This by way of an agreement with the power companies & their unions, because IF grid-connected systems did produce power during grid outages, they would energize wires outside the house, and could easily lead to electrocution deaths among power company workers who were working on the power lines that they thought were not energized.  

                        There are tech fixes for that, such as modifications to the household solar systems and so on, but those are beyond the scope of the major solar companies because they would introduce added complexity and cost.  

                        You can however DIY.

                        •  it's all about the inverter (0+ / 0-)

                          A straight grid-tied inverter requires the grid to provide a sine wave to sync to or it shuts down.

                          An inverter specifically designed for "grid-tied with battery back-up" configuration will work fine (cf Outback).

                          Systems with battery back up are much more difficult to design well so a typical grid tied installer won't know how to do it. I mean, it's still dead simple to design if you have reasonably good engineering problem solving skills. It's just harder than doing the same thing you did on the last 10 jobs since each one would have to be custom.

                          On a straight grid-tie, they just sell you a 2 kW system and it does what it does. For a battery back-up, you actually have to size it properly.

                          Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                          by jam on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 01:18:56 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  I was wondering how many hours on an exercise (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                bicycle-generator would be necessary to recharge an lithium ion batter, for an overnight run of a sleep apnea machine running at the highest pressure, like 19/24, which require more power, I think, than the lower settings.

                The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

                by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:01:13 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  well (0+ / 0-)

                  a fit person can generate 150 W pretty easily on a bicycle. Tour de France riders put out up to 500-600 W for short periods. The length of time would be based on your level of fitness and the amount of charge needed (amp hours).

                  Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                  by jam on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 01:20:56 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  About that fridge (13+ / 0-)

            Instead of buying yet another refrigerator, you could convert a chest freezer into a refrigerator, and have a refrigerator that uses 1/10th of a kilowatt per day, according to the claims.

            I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

            by tle on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:41:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for the links (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tle, HoundDog, FarWestGirl

              I found the full article and have saved it for future reference. It doesn't look that complicated, Mr. Freesia is an engineer-type, it should be pretty easy for him to do.

              •  Wish I'd made one already. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HoundDog, freesia

                I haven't, for a reason that is all too common;  fashion.  God forbid that there should be a big, clunky, ugly chest freezer in the kitchen.  And white?  No, no, must be stainless (or is that passe now?).

                I have a typical refrigerator, with the freezer on the bottom, with a pull-out drawer.  What happens when I open it?  All the cold air drops out of the wire cage bottom.

                Designed by idiots, for fools (including me).

                I am become Man, the destroyer of worlds

                by tle on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:31:27 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  that's how I built my system. However... (4+ / 0-)

              Two Danby chest freezers, one for "refrigerate" and one for "freeze," modified with digital thermostats I added to make them operate in the correct temp ranges.  

              Total yearly power consumption about 463 KWH.  That's a good bit better than an average fridge at @ 600.  However, apparently GE's new high-efficiency fridge (which does not appear to be terribly expensive, I've seen one but haven't looked up the price) comes in at 300.  

              Note, you really do want the refrigerate compartment as close to 32 fahrenheit as possible without freezing your milk.  Trying to cheap out by running it closer to 40 will make your food go bad faster.

              And avoid any "smart" fridge like plague: there is no need for a computer chip or an internet connection in a fridge!

              •  The Sunfrosts aren't elegant, and the capacity (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                isn't the greatest, but, they are the most efficient commercially available fridges. (they come in multiple types-propane, DC, regular AC)

                Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

                by FarWestGirl on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:54:44 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  165 KWH/year. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Mostly because they are super-insulated.  

                  For a given set of external dimensions, you have less space inside, however that is the necessary outcome of all the insulation.

                  The only problem is the four-figure price tag, which is out of range for most of us proles.  

                  So we choose the GE model instead for probably about $500, or we build our own, or something.

            •  Thanks tle. I'll look this up. (0+ / 0-)

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:05:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  That works if you own your own house. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cliss, Recall, HoundDog

            Those of us in condos, apartments, or rented houses, who don't have the legal right to slap a solar system onto our abodes, are a little more . . . what's the word? Oh yeah -- screwed.

            G2g, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm grousing at you -- your post contains awesome information. I just wish we lived in a society in which solar was the norm.

            "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

            by NWTerriD on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:10:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm in rental housing too, so... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .... no solar for me either.  

              Yes this is a problem.  

              There are other possibilities such as pedal-powered generators for keeping just a few LED lights, a radio, and a laptop & internet connection alive.  

          •  Great ideas, with one exception. If the grid goes (6+ / 0-)

            down, the Internet is going down as well.  Sure individual data centers may have power to keep building generators running for a few days in order to keep servers running, but most of the power that is used to run the switches out at the junction boxes in the neighborhoods aren't going to have backup power for this, and the large national pipes to go between providers are also likely to be offline.  You might have access to a local BBS, especially if you have an old modem that still works, but getting your current to and from that server and having it running?  Probably not for long.

      •  Being worked on (15+ / 0-)

        > The transformer problem is well known
        > However, nobody has bothered to do anything about it.

        Whether or not more should have been done at this point is a valid question.  However, thanks to some prodding by Congress (believe it or not) the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the grid coordinator for North America, has a major effort underway to research and set new requirements for geomagnetic storms and geomagnetically induced current.  The same team is also working on manmade electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attacks, although I personally am doubtful much can be accomplished there.


        •  Smaller, mobile transformers (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dotsright, FarWestGirl

          I thought I read that they were also looking into smaller, more mobile transformers that could be moved where needed.

          I wouldn't be surprised in DOD is also looking at this national security and ability to defend would certainly be implicated.

          Of course their inventory would be for their uses, but the technology would be something that could also then be applied to the civilian critical infrastructure needs.

          Just don't remember where they were in that process.

          Is the idea put forth back in 2008-9 of installing what I'll refer to generically as "surge protectors" for these massive, hard to replace transformers, still in play?

          If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

          by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:48:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That's going to be America's epitaph (20+ / 0-)

        We knew about that but we didn't want to spend the money.

      •  isn't having spare transformers a socialist plot (4+ / 0-)

        because we're telling the electric companies what to do, er, something like that.

        big badda boom : GRB 080913

        by squarewheel on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:47:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  nah. Let's pray. (13+ / 0-)

        It's cheaper, it reinforces our cred as a Faith Based people, and it makes good theater.
        Besides, that other stuff is hard.


        Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

        by kamarvt on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:43:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like a potential jobs program. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NWTerriD, Cliss, dotsright, HoundDog

        Gramps & I both work(ed) in the energy industry and my SIL is a nuke trainer.

        Please write a diary on this, neroden. The cost of protecting our T&D infrastructure and preparing for a potential devestating disaster - look at Fukushima since the EQ - is certainly worth it. The alternative is unthinkable.

        kinda/sorta o/t but, we drove past a Honda dealer last night and the lot was empty save 18 or so cars. Fukushima is decimating the Japanese auto industry right now. Do we really want to kill more of our jobs/industries by not being proactive in realtion to the coming CME concern?

        Nature created the human race, but humans created racism.

        by GrannyOPhilly on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:20:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Actually Not That Expensive (6+ / 0-)

        Experts have suggested a way to protect the tranformers instead of carrying excessive inventory of them.

        The House of Reps actually passed a bill a few years ago to allow the Fed govt to require the fix be installed and if I remember correctly it was about $5 household.

        Of course the Senate Republicans couldn't be bothered (must have been either their nap time or time for another tantrum).

        I'll give more detail in just a bit.  

        If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:40:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  About $150 Million or so. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, FarWestGirl
        What can be done to reduce our vulnerability?

        According to a January 2009 press release from Metatech, Inc., the installation of supplemental transformer neutral ground resistors to reduce GIC flows is relatively inexpensive, has low engineering trade-offs, and can produce 60-70% reductions of GIC levels for storms of all sizes. A Congressionally mandated "EMP Commission" has estimated the cost of this hardening in the existing U.S. power grid infrastructure to be on the order of $150 million. It would also be helpful to replace the ailing ACE satellite, which monitors solar storms and can provide advance warning of when a major geomagnetic storm is imminent. In any case, the future expansion of the electrical grid throughout the world needs to be designed with geomagnetic storms in mind. If large solar and wind power generation plants are developed, they will likely require an extensive new network of 765 kV transmission lines to deliver this energy. The higher voltage transformers needed for this expansion are the most vulnerable type of transformers to geomagnetic storms, and the new power system should be carefully designed to reduce this vulnerability. ...

        A future Space Weather catastrophe : a disturbing possibility Jeff Masters  WunderBlob  April 20, 2009

        If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:07:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  As a start. Then start a nation-wide program (35+ / 0-)

      to make as many homes self-sufficient for their power needs.  Such as Solar PV, wind, geothermal.

      Alhtough, I'm also concerned how such eruptions might affect rooftop solar PVs.  

      We probably need a higher class of circuit breakers to protect inverters.

      Also, it might be a good time for folks to start rereading Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond, and Gandhi's writings on self-sufficiency.

      I'd like to have my own capability for filtering local pond water, growing my own food, and being able to get by on my own for some period of time.

      The idea of "don't worry, be happy" because the government will take care of us if some emergency happens sort of evaporated watching the government's response to the Katrina hurricaine, and the Japanese government's response to the Fukushima accidents.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:43:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And keep burning coal. (11+ / 0-)

      After all, the 24,000 American deaths per year due to deadly coal combustion waste released into the atmosphere, are hardly as scary as the prospect of a meltdown.

      And climate change isn't due to human activities either.

      Who needs science when you can just make unsupported assertions and demands, right?  

    •  Doesn't work (8+ / 0-)

      > (2) Wrap key transformers in Faraday cages and put
      > fuses at the entrances and exits.

      Good thought, but that won't work: we are talking about massive DC currents flowing in the earth (or the sea) itself.  Blocking high frequency AC with a Faraday cage won't stop the DC that enters the transformer through its own grounding grid.

      Here's a description of what happens with photos of the results of one such incident:

      Quebec Hydro had a severe incident in 1989 as well with multiple large pieces of equipment damaged and hundreds of lines tripped out.


    •  Yes, it is. (26+ / 0-)

      I don't even have a home water purification system, let along Geiger counters, and the various tools we might want being off-grid for years or longer.

      Talk about alarmist reports.

      If it hadn't been for the fact that I promise over 100 readers I'd research this question this morning, I'd sit on this one for a few days, until I sort it out more.

      But, if this stand the test of time, I might start a new group called the Progressive Survivalist, and ask the seed sharers group to start giving us instructions on how to become self-sufficient in such a scenario.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:46:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please do (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        maxzj05, freesia, Joieau, Maggie Pax, HoundDog

        I'd join this group. Don't know that I would have much to add, but I'd like to learn.

        "If they give you ruled paper, write the other way" Juan Ramon Jimnez

        by Teiresias70 on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:01:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You got it Teiresias70. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Into The Woods

          I want to learn about this too.

          All I need to know is that at least one other person is iterested.

          I hate starting groups that no one else joins.

          It get's embarrassing after a while.


          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:19:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Count me in please. nt (0+ / 0-)

            If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

            by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:42:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I'll join! (0+ / 0-)

            I have practically nothing to add, and I'm not a geek (exception digital photography) but plenty to learn.

            BTW I'm late to the party, as usual, but this is a great diary and great comments.

            I wasn't altogether surprised to see it. Remember, we were looking at stuff post-Fukishima about concerns that the US grid and nuke plants could be in big trouble with electromagnetic storms, and then when the solar storms started buzzing, I started thinking hmmmmmm.

            But what you're showing here is a lot worse than what I was contemplating. Sheeesh, just what we need!

            I was writing for Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff during the 1989 solar storm.  That was interesting!

            Bravo!  Namaste!  

      •  Yes. Please do, HoundDog! n/t (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, Maggie Pax, Cliss, HoundDog
      •  Long time disaster prepper here... (9+ / 0-)

        and I'd say if you think you'll need to grow your own food someday, better start doing it now, even on a small scale, because learning how takes years and developing good soil likewise takes years.

        Same with a lot of the other technologies--like solar cooking, for example. Better start using them now, so you have a feel for them, know the ins and outs, the pros and cons.

        Even doing laundry without a washing machine is something that takes expertise and practice, as well as technical knowledge. Better get some experience with that now, to help you decide how much to invest in hand equipment.

        ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

        by sillia on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:18:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Solar cooking is kind of (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Russgirl, Cliss, flowerfarmer, HoundDog

          not very efficient, from what I've seen. Did make a nifty solar food dryer a few years ago out of salvaged lumber and windows, and it works very well to preserve the crops. But the solar cooker is basically just the old disk-TV dish coated with reflective foil and a plate where the electronics used to go. You sit the pot on the plate and put the thing in the sun, it'll certainly heat up. One pot at a time, which is great for stew but not very good for a three-course meal.

          I have found that the rebar tripod with hook over the campfire pit really will do either a stew or three-course meal. Can make the stew in a cast iron pot hung from the hook, can bake bread in the Dutch oven in the coals (with coals on top), and grill veggies at the same time on an old oven rack over the fire suspended by rocks...

          No solar flare is going to do away with trees, we've lots of them and they burn hot! Or, for awhile, the backyard gas grill works fine. So long as you can still exchange the gas.

          •  Solar cooking works great! (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joieau, flowerfarmer, HoundDog

            If you have a solar oven (an insulated box with a glass lid and solar reflectors around it) not the disk type you're thinking of. Here, this one, the Sun Oven, is the best thing ever! Buy one, the money goes to a good cause.

            I have been cooking in one of these for several years. Even at latitude 41, it works GREAT in the sunnier months, May-October and it also works in winter but you have to be much more patient. In the sunny months, I can bake bread in it without heating up the kitchen, cook beans, bake potatoes, and basically any type of slow-cooker recipe comes out great.

            AND, you can pretty easily make your own solar oven with simple materials like a couple of cardboard boxes, some crumpled newspaper for insulation, some non-toxic black paint, a scavenged window pane for the lid. Make the reflectors with aluminum foil glued onto cardboard. Kids make these in school--look on the internet, there are plans and instructions for these things all over the place. A home made one will work just about as well as the purchased appliance above, only downside it will eventually wear out and is not too sturdy where there's a lot of wind. But you really, truly can cook in them!

            You can boil water in these homemade solar ovens, it's a great technology to know how to use.

            ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

            by sillia on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:11:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks for that link, sillia. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sillia, flowerfarmer

              I'll look into the box design. I made the dish type cooker going on what I found on the web, do these things because I write articles for a homesteading blog and live that lifestyle as well.

              Had an 'oven' years ago that was just a sheet metal and insulation box with a door that opened and one of those magnetic thermostats that goes from "cold" to "hot." You sit it on top of the wood stove to bake bread and pies. Worked great. Now I'm thinking a brick oven out off the back deck near the grill, for home made pizza and bread. Wood is something that's not in short supply here in the southern Appalachians. But solar would always be welcome too!

              •  It's great to have alternatives (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Joieau, HoundDog

                in any case.

                I don't have an alternative heat source for my home, and would love to get a woodburning stove but need some renovations first--I hope the apacolypse can wait until I'm ready, LOL. What I would REALLY love but probably could never afford is one of those masonery ovens that sort of looks like a fireplace but the stone chimney is in your interior and is designed to heat up and gradually give off heat for hours. You can cook and bake bread on one of those, too, depending on the design. Anyway I like that idea but they are very $$$.

                Very nice blog!...I'll go back and browse some more there later. Thanks.

                ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

                by sillia on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:23:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Cool, thanks sillia. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

              by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:23:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  You'll also have a marketable skill to others (5+ / 0-)

          in the event that things go south.  Think about the people skilled with computers and big business who won't have useful skills once those things go away.

        •  Do you already do this silia? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

          by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:22:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, many things (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I grow lots of our own food, that is, I did for 15 years or so until I became sick with Lyme disease so my garden has been on hold for a couple of years. When I'm recovered I will get back to it, I love gardening. One year I weighed everything I harvested and it came to over 1,000 pounds. A half a ton!

            I started learning about seed saving and am slowly making progress with that.

            Solar cooking, I already mentioned I've been doing that for several years. I will consider getting or making a second unit. In the summer I really like cooking this way, and do so most days when it's not raining or blowing real hard. I also built a solar food dryer which works well and handles a much bigger load than my electric one. Solar food drying is something that could easily be increased if need be. I've been working on food storage for a number of years, learning the best way to handle the harvest. I do some freezing but try not to let that be my main food backup. So if we lost power for an extended period there would still be plenty of canned, dried, and fresh food to eat.

            Laundry: I make my own laundry detergent from ingredients that are easy to stock up on. I have several large washtubs that are in storage now but I have experimented with using them. I don't actually have a wringer (sadly) but I do have a large mop unit with a squeezer which works great to get water out of clothes. I use the plunger-in-a 5-gallon-bucket trick for washing and rinsing some items quite often and have a good sense of how much detergent and how much plunging it takes to get things clean and rinsed. I'm stocked up on vinegar, which is a great rinse additive. Oh, and we have a clothesline outside and clothes racks inside--the dryer is handy so I'd say we do 50-50 electric drying vs. hanging up. But we can easily hang all of it up and we have done so when the dryer was broken for a few months.

            Laundry is something that most people might have quite a struggle with if they had no power. It is a really, really hard chore if you're not properly equipped.

            I could go on and on. I have been interested in disaster prep since I was a child and started doing  serious prepping around Y2K, though that was just sort of fun, I never believed things would slide off the rails then. Since then it seems more and more like things we might need some day.

            I have to say, my large stockpile of food and other necessities has come in very handy while I've been sick. This was not the disaster I was planning on, but sure enough, it saved me trips to the store to have extra there, so that when I was too ill to go out I really didn't need to. And I have felt less anxious, knowing I have plenty of rice, etc. and won't run out. I have been grateful for all that planning ahead, it has helped me a lot.

            ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

            by sillia on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:12:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  If the power grid is taken out for YEARS ... (35+ / 0-)
    Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem.

    ... that's kind of a "civilization has collapsed" scenario.

  •  This is really bad news. (15+ / 0-)

    I haven't visited for a while, but there will probably be discussions there about the possible impacts of these major solar flares among the many scientists, engineers and energy experts who populate the place.

    Another place to watch for info the the website.

    If we are hit with a solar flare and resultant CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) like the one that shut down the power grid in Quebec in 1989, our on-line always connected society might come to a sudden halt and take some time to completely recover.

    For those interested in learning more about the subject, a good start is to read the Wikipedia article on geomagnetic storms.


    The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein

    by DaveVH on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:54:43 PM PDT

  •  This is why we need a new grid. (19+ / 0-)

    I think part of the smart grid design is that it is resistant to EMPs, not sure if that's a requirement we have met or if it's merely on the wishlist.

    This is our WPA project.

  •  I think the IBT is running around with a bit (15+ / 0-)

    of a "hair on fire" approach.  

    Scientists say the current solar cycle 24, which began in January 2008, is likely to last until around 2020. It is predicted that Solar Cycle 24 will peak in June 2013 with about 69 sunspots.

    This is a good article:

    Sure, if we get a direct hit from a large CME it will knock some things out. I do not think that it would blow up the power grid for years. Of course, I live in the country and deal with power outages on a (unfortunately) fairly regular basis.

    A great source is

    Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

    by mrsgoo on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:20:45 PM PDT

    •  Thanks for the comment Mrsgoo. (9+ / 0-)

      I'm still trying to assess where this article lies on the spectrum of mainstream scientific opinion.

      Normally, I would have sat on this until I could find out, but a promised a bunch of folks this morning I'd research this question for them.

      But, my partner just got out to the hospitial after having her knee replaced, so I was only able to get back to it now.

      I'll check out your other links in the mornig.

      I have to crash now.


      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:27:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hope your SO is feeling better! Nighty Night! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, HoundDog, Matt Z

        It's about time for me to hit the sack also.

        Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

        by mrsgoo on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:31:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Right in the middle (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mamamedusa, tacet, SuWho, dotdot

        > I'm still trying to assess where this article lies on the
        > spectrum of mainstream scientific opinion.

        Try googling "GIC", "geomagnetic storm", "NERC", and "" in various combinations.  You will find many reports, studies, committees, projects, etc. analyzing the geomagnetic storm problem from about 1989.  

        The answer to your question is, right in the middle.  A mega-storm on the order of the one in 1859 could potentially cause massive damage to the electric grid.  On the other hand, such storms are clearly rare in terms of the lifecycle of human technology.  Major, but not mega, storms could cause severe damage (see 1989 Quebec Hydro geomagnetic incident) but would probably not knock out the entire machine nor destroy civilization.  Some work is being done on this problem by NERC and the operating companies (in North America); whether or not is enough remains to be seen.


    •  From your first link mrsgoo. Confirmation (12+ / 0-)

      Over global blackout potential for over a year.

      Historical CMEs in Comparison
      < Blockquote>
      On 13 March 1989, a CME knocked out power to the entire Canadian province of Quebec for nine hours.  Back on 1-2 September 1859, a “Solar Superstorm” caused the failure of telegraph systems all across Europe and North America.  Auroras were reportedly seen as far south as Hawaii and the Caribbean!  The world today is way more dependent on electricity than back in 1859.  An event similar to 1859 occurring today could create a major setback to the high-tech countries and could result in a global blackout that could last up to a year.  This recent flare was rated a Class X2, which is on the low end of the X scale and will not fall into a “worst-case scenario”.   The latest from NASA indicates that the bulk of the CME is going to pass just behind us, putting Earth on the edge.  Earth is a very small target in space.  We will certainly have to keep monitoring our Sun for future solar storms as we approach the solar maximum over the next several years.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:30:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I must admit that I'm not nearly as fearful (9+ / 0-)

        of solar maximum as I am of PG&E running things! :)

        Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

        by mrsgoo on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:34:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  As a result of the solar event in 1989 (4+ / 0-)

        a number of things were done to prevent it from happening again or to reduce the impact.

        Hydro-Québec strengthens its grid
        Shortly after this blackout, Hydro-Québec organized a task force to analyze the events and propose corrective measures. The following measures have since been applied:

        - Recalibration of protection systems and raising of the trip level. This tactic has proven effective, seeing there have been very intense magnetic storms since 1989 but they have not caused any problems.

        - Establishment of a real-time alert system that measures disturbances on the power grid during magnetic storms.

        - Modification of power system operating procedures. In the event of a disturbance, Hydro-Québec reduces power flow on lines and direct-current interconnections, and suspends all major switching operations.

        - Installation of series compensation on power lines to enhance grid stability. This measure has been very effective in mitigating the impact of magnetic storms.

        Québec is not alone to suffer the effects of magnetic storms. All power transmission companies located at higher latitudes, such as Scandinavia, Alaska and Northern Russia, are vulnerable. Hydro-Québec still remains more vulnerable due to Québec's position on a large rock shield that prevents the current from flowing through the earth. The electricity then finds a less resistant path along the power lines. What's more, Hydro-Québec's grid is made up of very long transmission lines, making it even more vulnerable to the Sun's temper tantrums.

        An international network
        Today, there is an international network that monitors the Sun's activities through satellites and observatories. The data is then used by regional centres to predict disturbances. One of these centres, located in Ottawa, posts a "weather report" on the Internet and updates it every hour, so we're alerted ahead of time. Forewarned is forearmed!

        At the above site is a simple explanation of the various problems that can occur from magnetic storms and they include some history:

        Having worked in the power transmission industry, things like "global blackout that could last up to a year" seem way over the top to me.

        •  I suspect they're basing that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamamedusa, WheninRome

          on transformers being destroyed by a big flare.  Few spares, little domestic production, and long lead times.  I could see years.

          •  My working experience in power transmission (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            petral, mamamedusa

            was as manager of design and industrial engineering for the manufacture of power transmission equipment including various very high capacity transformers, capacitors, substations, etc.

            A transformer, large or small, is quite a simple piece of electrical equipment to manufacture. The design is already known. Even if you didn't have a plant, you could rig up a lathe to do the coil winding and that would be the toughest manufacturing hurdle - in other words, a pretty minor hurdle. I'm sure one could get their mitts on the core steel for the winding quickly in a pinch. The insulators, copper or aluminum wire, connectors, oil (if not dry type), steel for fabricating the enclosure, etc are common stock inventory items for a variety of products and applications.

            Transformers are still made in the USA.

            Even if you have a cascading event, most of it will be from automatic shutdown due to overload before the equipment is damaged. In other words, they're not going to be having to replace thousands of transformers.

            "global blackout that could last up to a year"  due to the lead time for transformer production? Nope. That's definitely way over the top.

            •  have you bought/sold a xfmr lately? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dotdot, JayBat

              lead times are currently about 6 to 9 months in a down economy. In 2008-2009 lead times were out over a year. I got a quote with a 54 week lead time.

              You add a huge demand spike to that and you are definitely going to push it out past a year without adding manufacturing capacity.

              Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

              by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:10:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Couple things (0+ / 0-)

                First -- why wouldn't they add manufacturing capacity in this situation? I would think they'd ramp it way up.

                Second -- If you are quoted a wait time of 54 weeks, what that means is that you are 54 weeks back in the queue. It doesn't mean no new transformers are being created during that 54-week period. During the entire 54 weeks, new transformers are going out to other people who happened to get in the queue before you. So if a CME occurred, some transformers would be replaced right away.

                "These are not candidates. These are the empty stand-ins for lobbyists' policies to be legislated later." - Chimpy, 9/24/10

                by NWTerriD on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:49:02 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                  First - sure, but can you build a transformer factory in less than a year?

                  Second - I guess you are assuming that all of the existing orders in the queue get postponed until the grid is back on, all of the construction on new projects stops, and all of the the trained high voltage electricians get immediately seconded to the utilities?

                  It can take 6 months for a utility to even process an RFP for a new transformer much less order, receive, and install one.

                  Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                  by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:14:12 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  "without adding manufacturing capacity" (0+ / 0-)

                which is key because that is what they would have to do in the event of major loss. In many instances, they'd have to add a shift or two at a plant. Money would talk to get items bumped up in the production schedule as it always has.

                If there is truly a bulk need, they can set up a plant. I've set up one and moved another. It's not that hard and it is not high tech. Most of the equipment needed for production is not that unique. There would be plants shuttered in the US right now (automotive, steel, etc) with the materials handling capabilities. Steel fabricators can build the tanks for a coil winding and assembly plant.

                For the giant 300 or so transformers in the US, those are  custom built and more problematic to replace but those are also the transformers with the most protection from a magnetic storm. Like the smaller transformers, a significant number would be repairable or could be refurbished.

                Some of the problem with the studies I've seen is that it's almost like they assume ignorance. We see the event 8 minutes after it happens on the Sun (the time it takes for light to travel from the sun to the earth). We have a minimum of 13 hrs to prepare for the arrival of the CME in the worst case (average of 3.5 days). The utilities that manage the grids have action plans to deal with it's pending arrival depending on the severity.

                A handful of big storms are anticipated between now and 2013.  The first of three flares that happened last week glanced/pretty much missed the earth.

                So the star has to kind of align literally for bad things to happen.

                We have the know how today to build a house that one could survive in a hurricane, tornado, tsunami, earthquake and nuclear attack. But very few want to pay for it because these extreme events are so unlikely and/or they couldn't afford it. All structures and designs have a weak point.

                The US grid is very arguably weaker in design than is desirable.  And due to lack of funding/bad economy, they're probably under supplied for spares and have a less than desirable maintenance record. I could see power shortages because of a handful of power transmission/power plants are off line for a while while repairs get made.  But in spite of all that "global blackout that could last up to a year" still seems way over the top to me.

                •  I agree that it is a low probability event (0+ / 0-)

                  I'm just saying it takes a long damn time to get transformers ;)

                  Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

                  by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:00:00 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  You are dead wrong. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jam, JayBat

              The massive transformers to which they are referring are already on a 1yr lead time to replace and require highly specialized plants to manufacture.  

              The industry and US science community and global insurance companies have evidently considered your "MacGruber" option and found it wanting.

              If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

              by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:47:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Two of the highest areas at risk are (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Into The Woods

                Ontario and Quebec because of the resistance the igneous rock they exist on causes.

                In 1989, they developed "Procedures for Solar Magnetic Disturbances Which Affect Electric Power System" and have enhanced it several times since. Various states in the US have also participated and embraced it. As well, they've enhanced their emergency plans to deal with it.

                That's import to the US because those two provinces are also suppliers of power to the US.


                The sun's activity is increasing again on the way to the next peak of the solar cycle, which NOAA expects in May 2013. Meanwhile, North America's grid has aged another 22 years.

                That doesn't worry Quebec's main utility, which says its infrastructure has improved with time.
                Within months of the blackout, Hydro-Québec had recalibrated the trip levels for safety equipment across the grid to reduce the chance it would be triggered by a solar storm. Later, it added equipment called series compensation on some lines to increase the stability of the network by changing the electrical behaviour of its transmission lines — a project completed in 1996.

                According to NOAA, those upgrades cost $1.2 billion.

                Hydro-Québec has also created an alert system to measure disturbances in the grid during magnetic storms, targeting certain substations in an effort to get an overview of the whole grid.
                Ontario's Hydro One receives early warnings about solar activity from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and has sensors and other equipment that helps dissipate the impact of solar disturbances, spokeswoman Daniele Gauvin said.

                It seems like the upgrades are working. On Feb. 18 this year, a massive blast of plasma from the sun hit the Earth's atmosphere, creating a brillant display of lights in Northern Canada but causing no damage to the country's electrical grid.
                Ontario's Hydro One says it is far better prepared for problems on the grid than it was then.

                In 2005, it opened its Ontario Grid Control Centre to monitor and control the flow of electricity across the province, including disturbances.
                The system proved itself last summer, when a problem arose at the Manby Transformer Station in Toronto, cutting power to a section of the city. That could have cascaded and created other blackouts like the 2003 Ohio incident, but it didn't. In fact, Hydro One managed to restore power relatively quickly.

                "We could see all the information at once," Hamilton said, "and we could immediately start planning how to switch around the issues that arose."

                Ontario, like many other North American regions, is moving towards a smart grid — one with a built-in information infrastructure that allows the entire grid to be monitored and controlled from a distance.

                That isn't yet in place for the distribution side of the network, which carries power from the transmission network to customers. But Hydro One's transmission network — the part of the grid that would likely be most affected by solar storms, among other things — already is practically a smart grid, Hamilton said. The people overseeing the system can monitor current at different locations, remotely turn power on and off, and dispatch crews to the areas it believe there could be a problem.

                Consequently, Hydro One thinks it, too, is ready for the coming peak of the solar-storm cycle as well as other environmental challenges.

                Some of the solar storm doom & gloom reports I've looked at today are dated and don't take the above into account. Others, including one from NASA, has hardly any electrical power transmission expertise contributing. Others still are very speculative with quantification adjectives like "susceptible" without pinning down that all susceptible are likely to fail - which makes a worst case. Others are written by folks who sell services or equipment to deal with the problem like Metatech Corporation - it's in their financial self interest to alarm people.

                The loss of the ability to provide power costs megamillions to these power transmission companies. I've seen no evidence that they're twiddling their thumbs at this threat. It is not in their financial interest to do so. It isn't in the financial interest of the vendors who sell to them either. And like Ontario, they're protecting their most critical assets - like their biggest transformers to avoid 1 year replacement time.

                "global blackout that could last up to a year" still seems way over the top to me.

                •  Twiddling Thumbs, No. But preparing for this. No (0+ / 0-)

                  Its the same old game.

                  Weighing the chances of a low probability event against the risks of damages.

                  In a commercial environment focussed like a laser on the shortest of short-term profit horizons, the pressure to ignore the less frequent, lower probablity events becomes overwhelming.

                  We see it in many different industries.

                  And it is especially troubling in industries where a form of 'self-regulation' is the dominant form of change.

                  NERC, a private corporation, is essentially the regulating agency.

                  And the law that even allows that authority does not cover signifcant parts of the grid, including many major metropolitan areas.

                  The actual federal agency cannot itself promulgate a rule to require even the most minimal of hardening that is envisioned in the House Grid bill (at a cost of $100 - 150 Million).  They can only 'direct NERC to address it'.  And then sit back and wait a couple of years to see what comes out.  

                  The grid has improved in some ways since 1989, but it has also increased its vulnerability over that same time period.  

                  While the changes may have improved the system, the storms that have passed in the meantime have not come anywhere near the ones that are talked about here (1921 or 1859.)

                  You might want to look at some of the additional links I added for sources and then revisit your assessment of whether the statements of risk are being given by qualified professionals.  

                  I still don't find power outage risk in terms of years, but one of the more recent studies, quoted more than once in Congressional testimony on the issue, does talk about the potential for chronic, long term shortages for "multiple years".  

                  Given the assessment of potential risk and the lack of affirmative action to address that risk, I have seen little to indicate the broadly acknoweldged risk has gone away as you seem to believe.

                  If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

                  by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:25:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The risk is never gone in engineering (0+ / 0-)

                    You just get it down to a remote chance because no one can afford or is willing to pay for 99.999999999999% certainty.


                    "History shows that big sunspot cycles 'ramp up' faster than small ones," he says. "I expect to see the first sunspots of the next cycle appear in late 2006 or 2007—and Solar Max to be underway by 2010 or 2011."

                    Whoops!! That's not how it's turned out or not in agreement with others.

                    Article from June 2011:
                    Sunspots May Disappear, Sun Going Into Unusual Quiet Mode: Scientists

                    The sun is heading into an unusual and extended hibernation, scientists predict. Around 2020, sunspots may disappear for years, maybe decades.

                    But scientists say it is nothing to worry about. Solar storm activity has little to do with life-giving light and warmth from the sun. The effects from a calmer sun are mostly good. There'd be fewer disruptions of satellites and power systems. And it might mean a little less increase in global warming.

                    It's happened before, but not for a couple centuries.

                    "The solar cycle is maybe going into hiatus, sort of like a summertime TV show," said National Solar Observatory associate director Frank Hill, the lead author of a scientific presentation at a solar physics conference in New Mexico.

                    Scientists don't know why the sun is going quiet. But all the signs are there.
                    Earlier this month, David Hathaway, NASA's top solar storm scientist, predicted that the current cycle, which started around 2009, will be the weakest in a century. Hathaway is not part of Tuesday's prediction.

                    Altrock also thinks the current cycle won't have much solar activity. He tracks streamers from the solar corona, the sun's outer atmosphere seen during eclipses. The streamers normally get busy around the sun's poles a few years before peak solar storm activity. That "rush to the poles" would have happened by now, but it hasn't and there's no sign of it yet. That also means the cycle after that is uncertain, he said.

                    Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory, another study co-author, said sunspot magnetic fields have been steadily decreasing in strength since 1998. If they continue on the current pace, their magnetic fields will be too weak to become spots as of 2022 or so, he said.

                    You've heard the popular expressions about predicting the weather on earth. We don't know nearly as much about the weather on the sun. One guy at NASA says it will be the weakest in a century. Another NASA guy says we might get clobbered. The first guy quoted at the top doesn't agree with either.

                    The solar storm of 1859 was "greatest solar storm in the past 450 years"

                    Engineers have to factor that in. We also have to consider that we might not get clobbered by a serious solar storm for another 450 or more years. On the other side, the power grid has survived 70 solar storms since 1921.

                    If the worst were to occur, I think this describes my feelings on the likely outcome best:

                    Should this threat materialize, I also expect the crisis would quickly elevate to the level of a national imperative.  All available expertise, manpower, equipment and facilities would be brought to bear to fabricate and install key damaged infrastructure elements and move the electrical power grid back into operational status.  Normally one might expect a year or two to replace this equipment  but under a concerted effort and governmental mandate, I believe the damaged infrastructure could be resolved in the order of weeks rather than in years.

                    Again, transformers are not that hard to manufacture or repair. The emergency would wipe out the typical lead times. Steel fabricators could be pressed into building the tanks and an assembly plant could be setup in a very short period of time if mass production was needed.

                    He goes on to say this (I mention again):

                    After the major 1989 blackout, Hydro-Quebec has invested over $1.2 billion installing transmission line series capacitors.  These capacitors block GIC flow in order to prevent them from causing damage to the system.  HydroQuebec has also built shopping center-sized sub-stations where they installed electric buffers, or valves, that convert AC power to DC and then back to AC, known as "back-to-back" valves for long distant power lines.  This configuration was very expensive to build and very different from the rest of North America grid, but because of its buffers and valves, is very stable and secure relative to other utility companies. This investment will likely improve the survivability of that portion of the North American grid.

                    The good news is the most susceptible areas of the NA grid have been largely addressed by Ontario Hydro and Hydro Quebec. The bad news might be that others haven't done as much as they need to in the US AND maybe, in spite of the Cdn utilities efforts, they'll still suffer from human error/design flaw.

                    Right out of school, I was troubled when I saw product designs at a power transmission equipment company that were not up to spec/code. My father was an engineer and I went to him for advice. He grabbed the building code and took me for a drive around the city. He showed me about half the buildings weren't up to code - in part due to age as parts of the code didn't exist when they were built. Large factors of safety  in designs keep those buildings standing. And it ain't a perfect world.

                    Cause for concern? Absolutely. Global blackout for a year? I'm not buying anything close to that as very likely.

    •  It's easier to deal with a power outage (18+ / 0-)

      in the country. If you have a well you can access with a hand pump, a wood burning stove, and some oil lamps along with a food supply (a big garden and a pregnant pig can keep you going for a long time) you can do pretty well, indeed.
      But Houndog's focus was on the inability of most - if not all - nuke plants to deal with the grid going down for more than a few days. If you're downwind, downstream, or in proximity to a pile of hot spent fuel or a reactor in meltdown, being in the country might not do you much good. And a half dozen simultaneous meltdowns around the country would murder the economy for many years, regardless of the reparability of the grid.

      "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

      by Andhakari on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:33:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Should have their hair on fire (0+ / 0-)

      if they've got the timing right.  That's literally TEOTAWKT if we don't prepare.

    •  Consider "months". If you make it past "months" (0+ / 0-)

      the years of recovery would be tough, but something you would consider youself lucky to have the opportunity to face.

      Other than converting "years" to "months" of blackout followed by 'years' of recovery, if this is "hair on fire" you should review the links I just posted at the top of the comments and then decide whether all those sources have burning hair.

      I'll try to get links to the Congressional hearings up if I can find them later.

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:43:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  on the bright side (6+ / 0-)

    the brutal economic crash such a thing could trigger would probably help a bit in cutting carbon emissions, especially if it coincided with the downslope of peak oil.

  •  Holy Shit ! I guess I picked the wrong week to (11+ / 0-)

    quit smoking crack. Damn.

    The Fierce Urgency of Later

    by Faroutman on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:56:05 PM PDT

  •  My guess is that global warming will (11+ / 0-)

    kill us before a blackout causes a nuclear crisis that kills us.

    I'm in the I-fucking-love-this-guy wing of the Democratic Party!

    by doc2 on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:25:23 AM PDT

  •  there will be no year long blackouts (8+ / 0-)

    I T&Red because I like the focus of your diary- solar flares are important events- and will affect our electrical grid- but the scenario you put forth is not likely to happen- nor do I think NOAA scientists would agree that a solar event equates to nuclear meltdowns--- Your warning whistle is akin to the y2K hoopla that permeated the media at the last turn of the century.  Large solar flares may impact us in the coming decades, but unless there is a complete tear in the social fabric of our way of life, the chances that we will sit idle while a nuclear plant melts down are between nil and zero.

    Don't get me wrong- If I were king of the world- the whole idea of harnessing nuclear reactions for electricity would be verboten.... and it is only a matter of time (my guess is between 500-1000 years from now) before the impact of nuclear reactors/weapons is disseminated throughout the world's environment and impacts everything on the earth.

    I just think that it is unrealistic to think that solar flares in the coming decades will lead to nuclear destruction.  

  •  There was a meeting on it in June (10+ / 0-)

    Space Weather Enterprise Forum 2011

    Getting Ready for the Next Big Solar Storm

    •  In your 2nd link NASA is saying we're entering (0+ / 0-)

      a "below average" solar cycle but the diarist claims that NOAA is saying the opposite. Right and left hands not talking to each other I suppose.

      As 2011 unfolds, the sun is once again on the eve of a below-average solar cycle—at least that’s what forecasters are saying.  The "Carrington event" of 1859 (named after astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the instigating flare) reminds us that strong storms can occur even when the underlying cycle is nominally weak.  

      Every election either the democrats lose or the republicans lose. But in every election there is always the same winner. And he drives a Mercedes.

      by Methinks They Lie on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:08:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not inconsistent. We're going into the active (0+ / 0-)

        segment of the cycle.  That's clear.

        What's debatable is where this active segment will be more or less active than average.

        And whether even if it is "less active" it can still produce the kind of geomagnetic disturbance that came out of a comparatively 'less active' active segment in 1859.  

        At one point, given the very quiet 'inactive segment' and the delay in making the turn to 'active', there was speculation that it might be something more drastic in quieting down, but that appears to not have been the case.  

        If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:32:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Someone needs to find out if the sun (7+ / 0-)

    is anti-America. Real Americans want to know. I mean, who IS this "sun"?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:24:59 AM PDT

  •  "Years or decades" -- how? (4+ / 0-)

    The article linked doesn't say at all exactly how it is that a few solar flares will cause all electricity to stop working in large areas as "transformers are destabilized".  What the hell does that mean?

    Although I'm a tech writer now, I studied electrical engineering for three years in college, and none of this makes any sense whatsoever.

    Temporary disruptions?  Sure.  Possible.  Fried ICs due to EMPs in upper atmo?  Also possible.  Power gone for years due to flares?

    Sorry, I call BS.

    "Don't ride in anything with a Capissen 38 engine. They fall right out of the sky." -- Kaywinnit Lee Frye

    by Technowitch on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:00:33 AM PDT

    •  go back up to the post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, mamamedusa

      with the NASA links. Or, the Wired article seems a decent popularization.

      Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:48:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Three words: E. M. P. (11+ / 0-)

      Electromagnetic pulse from a mondo flare will literally fry not only the transformers, but pretty much everything in the way of electronics---and all your cutesy surge protectors won't do diddly-squat to stop it.  Unless you've got a hardened revetment to hide your stuff in, you're gonna join us in the "Neo-Flintstone Age" for a while.

      The sweet justice of it all?  I know how to use a slide rule; you're all stuck with totally-dead calculators.  I've got a house crammed full of books; you can use your Kindle for a paperweight.  I can grow fruits and veggies and grain; your oil-dependent food-web is extinct.

      I grew up knowing both Morse and Semaphore; you can pick your teeth with your cellphones and Blackberries.

      I don't need your YouTube; your Facebook; your Twitter.

      In short:  I will survive.  My wife and kids will survive.  You?  Not so much....

      I count even the single grain of sand to be a higher life-form than the likes of Sarah Palin and her odious ilk.

      by Liberal Panzer on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:30:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where do you live Liberal Panzer? (6+ / 0-)

        I'm headed to your house if this happens.

        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:48:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Geomagnetic current (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        While pulse-like effects from a flare will be bad for objects in space, it is the slow DC geomagnetic current from a flare that would damage the electric grid on earth.  Manmade high-intensity EMP, while being handled by the same industry teams, is a separate problem.


      •  my slide rule will still work, too (0+ / 0-)

        I have trouble doing some complex stuff with it, but it will do a simple multiplication.

        80 % of success is JUST SHOWING UP; & not playing 11 Dimensional Chess !

        by Churchill on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:14:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  and what, pray tell, will I (4+ / 0-)

        need a slide rule for in this Beyond Thunderdome world? Poking the squirrels trying to raid the garden?

        Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

        by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:17:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Heh. And they call us (0+ / 0-)

        homesteaders aiming for self-sufficiency "Luddites."

        •  It really more of a modern conceit. (0+ / 0-)

          People were never self-suffiecient, even back in the pioneering days.

          •  If you only get to town (0+ / 0-)

            maybe twice, three times a year, then you're pretty darned self-sufficient. Of course, we still have to create the new water system - tap a spring up the creek 75 feet vertical drop over the spring house and install new settling cisterns. Install ram pump in the pump house, using the old pressure tank. Pump the water up the mountain about 250 feet vertical (and that many yards horizontal) to a 300-gallon cistern on the ridge. So we'll have gravity feed, entire thing uses not a single 'tron. As compared to our current system that uses a 220 submersible pump.

            Still have no AC, but while digging water lines I am planning to sink some nice 3.5" PVC we salvaged, under the north lawn, to pipe into the cabin via exhaust-size fan for a little geothermal help both ways. Central basement-level wood stove still does an excellent job of heating the entire place in winter. If I ever win the lottery (that I don't play), I will be able to afford the solar, wind and micro-hydro on my two creeks to generate my own 'trons. Am seriously considering a stationary bicycle generator for the computer...

            Have more than an acre of herb and truck garden only partially productive most seasons, already terraced room for grain if I need to grow some. Have orchard (apples, pears and cherries, want peaches and plums) and vineyard - zinfandel, concord and muscadine. Another fifteen acres of lush southern Appalachian forest in medicinal herbs traded in the fall to a licensed dealer. Need a solar tiller or a mule, but in the meantime a neighbor has a nice pair of Belgians I could borrow.

            If I had the fencing I could do goats and chickens and bees. Issue with living next to a National Forest bear sanctuary.  If we ate meat, we could have a few meat animals too. Going to try cotton on the hill next year, things are getting warmer but there's still plenty of rain. Maybe get a couple of sheep to make the Border Collie happy and get the lawn mowed while we're at it. Grandson's SO has a spinning wheel and loom. The goats can take care of the encroaching kudzu.

            We're not self-sufficient yet, but are working toward that goal. It can be done, even though it's not really just "self" involved. There might be some conceit there, since we certainly did make the decision to live this way on purpose. But mostly it's about walking the walk. If your world goes away tomorrow, we will probably survive. Most people on this planet don't have what you've got - or even what I've got - never did. They manage to survive too.

            •  It's a lifestyle that is enabled by the industrial (0+ / 0-)

              civilization that we both live in. It's your world, too.

              •  Yeah. I have electricity. (0+ / 0-)

                My goal is to generate my own. To (yes, admittedly) run those appliances that require electricity. But if I someday have to toast bread the old fashioned way, I know how. I've never had an electric can opener. Wouldn't have one - SwingAways are great, that's what I've always used. And my arms/wrists still work. Don't need no electric toothbrush. When I can't even do that much anymore, there are nurse's aides in the Home.

                I like metals too. Grandson #1 is noted for making very nice spearpoints out of railroad spikes. Which in turn can help rustle up dinner. So that's all good too. But my water supply is my own - a spring from the roots of a gigantic poplar in the bottomland, and a spring fed creek nearby from which I could tap new springs. And will for the ram pump, which uses no electricity at all. Have wind on the ridge I could tap too. And a nice south-facing expanse for solar. If I could afford it, and those are definitely products of civilization.

                I quite like civilization. Wouldn't really like to have to survive without it. But then again, there are many things about civilization I can do without. A product of being in the midst of rapid civilizational decline, no doubt. Grow most of our own food, and preserve it - sans electricity - as well. Have many neighbors who farm, can barter for staples. So long as we have access to food, we can jury-rig the rest if we have to.

                We know more about how to do so thanks to civilization and education. But that doesn't necessarily mean I don't recognize its decline, or would be willing to fight for the status quo at this point in my life.

                •  Civilization has been in decline ever since the... (0+ / 0-)
                  A product of being in the midst of rapid civilizational decline, no doubt.

                  ... invention of old people.

                  Grow most of our own food, and preserve it - sans electricity - as well. Have many neighbors who farm, can barter for staples. So long as we have access to food, we can jury-rig the rest if we have to.

                  And you'll have food as long as you never have your crops fail.

      •  I take it you don't need health insurance either. (0+ / 0-)
    •  One issue is the transformers being fried, and the (4+ / 0-)

      time it takes to get replacements during a crisis, where a whole lot of equally urgent crisis, including perhaps, Marshalll law is in effect.

      Think of New Orleans during Katrina with people sitting there waiting to be rescued by people who did not come.

      I was puzzled, by the long time period of the article, so much I already sought confirmation. See the update from Mrsgoo's comment.

      I'm still researching it, but it maybe that some solar flares are longer term affairs, I do not know for sure.  But, this time period, is out there in a lot of places, and I doubt the NOAA would be putting this out, if there was no basis for it.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:47:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  More sources and explanation added above. (0+ / 0-)

      with your background, you'll probably understand it better than I do.

      But the folks who are coming to these conclusions are neither light weights nor outsiders.

      They are industry folk and experts repeatedly hired by the industry and govt to address these kinds of issues.

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:35:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  protective measures? (6+ / 0-)
    According to Kappenman, there’s an as-yet-untested plan for inserting ground resistors into the power grid.It makes the handling a little more complicated, but apparently isn’t anything the operators can’t handle.

    I saw an article some years back (not the Wired article above) that estimated the cost at $10K / high-voltage transformer. I assume that what's referenced is substation transfomers on upward.

    I think if the power operators were doing this, I'd know about it, it would have gotten mentioned in slashdot or something like that.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:19:56 AM PDT

  •  the underlying problem here (8+ / 0-)

    is that the elites are acting on the basis that they actually believe can control the forces of nature with press releases.
    Which are cheaper than spending a few thousand per HV transformer to actually buy protection.

    IOW, the same way they "deal" with global warming.

    If things go down via one global disaster or another, we won't be the first society killed by the "leadership" dangerously incompetent elites.

    We might be the last one, though.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:56:14 AM PDT

  •  So I may get a vacation? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, HoundDog

    This is GREAT news for koNko.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:13:14 AM PDT

  •  Newt Gingrich is already on this. I believe (5+ / 0-)

    Congress appropriated funding to protect the grid at large a few years ago. Doomsday scenarios of cars not starting, cell phones frying in your pants aren't founded, but there could be damage that takes a long time to repair because preparation for quick repair isn't nearly the priority it should be. Same could happen with an EMP or nuke detonated at 20,000 ft+.  Should be a national security threat taken seriously.

    All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

    by the fan man on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:36:10 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for the info fan man. (3+ / 0-)

      This could be a jobs stimulus that has some long-term value as well.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:52:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe the biggest issue is getting (0+ / 0-)

        replacement parts for mammoth sized generators which may get fried. They aren't enough (any?) spare parts and would take time to manufacture, ship and install. That's where making the grid less vulnerable comes into play. We may have rolling blackouts, but that's better than no power to a major city for weeks or months.

        By the way, there are a number of bad fiction books on this subject, usually caused by an enemy attack not the sun.

        All problems contain the seeds of their own solutions and all solutions contain the seeds of the next set of problem. - Jonas Salk

        by the fan man on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:04:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  No. Appropriation was for study and commissions. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      the fan man

      The only funding to actually address this threat was killed by the Senate in 2010.

      It's languishing in Congress now.

      In part because it gets caught up in the cyber-security debate and in part because NERC (the private corporation who actually regulates reliability on the detail level) does not want the real Govt Agency (FERC) to be able to mandate that these changes be made.  

      The appropriations were in the $150 Million range.  Which by Federal standards is just north of a rounding error.  

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:40:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll be fine (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jodster, petral, mamamedusa

    I got me one of those crank-up LED Flashlight/AM Radios. (I guess I won't need the radio?)

    is Obama the only sane Republican running for president in 2012?

    by al23 on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:20:54 AM PDT

  •  I actually warned Meteor Blades about this (0+ / 0-)

    back on april the 5th of this year. I was proud that he red it and tipped of the few times I was graced with his eyeballs.

    Here's the thread:

    You could be listening to Netroots Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:28:48 AM PDT

  •  Defund NOAA and put and end to these problems (5+ / 0-)

    Republicans and ostriches agree with this approach.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:29:08 AM PDT

  •  But... (4+ / 0-)

    ... the Republican response to this is the simplest and most cost-effective of all?  If we just defund NOAA, the problem will go away.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 04:36:01 AM PDT

  •  The site has crashed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And honestly?  Unless it's confirmed by NOAA instead of a business paper, this strikes me as exaggerated, to say the least.  

  •  Guess what? Scientists are preparing for this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, Into The Woods

    Scientists from NASA are on this.  Please scroll halfway down the page.

  •  Question... Regarding Flare Seasonal Timing (0+ / 0-)

    are solar flares more frequent durring the summer?

    My concern being if a flare knocks the power grid out in the middle of winter, we'll be in a heap of trouble.

    one can live without A/C, but it's tough to survive long with no heat.

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:51:41 AM PDT

  •  Industry is aware and working on it (5+ / 0-)

    Many comments are posted upthread along the lines of "why isn't anything being done about this".  Given that the possibility of severe damage has been clear since the 1989 Quebec Hydro incident

    the question of why more hasn't been done already is a fair one.

    However, it is not correct to say that "nothing is being done".  In the US (and by extension North America) Congress and the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency have been prodding the industry on both EMP and geomagnetic storm mitigation for several years  The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has several teams working on both research and operating standards (NERC's standards essentially carry the force of law in the US) directing electric service entities to make equipment modifications and develop operating procedures to handle these situations.  

    As always there is a question of is this enough (or too much), in time or not, but the problem is being worked.


    •  Odds that they are using a "worst-case" scenario (0+ / 0-)

      that not only does not reach Carrington level but also not even 1921 level?

      From an industry that spends such a tiny amount of their revenue on R&D?

      I would not count on them "working" on a level of severity that they feel is "improbable" even though the Sun unleashed an event that exceeded the Carrington event back in 2000 or 2001.

      Luckily it was not pointed at us.

      That time.

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:56:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Waitaminute.. (0+ / 0-)

    .. so, Assassin's Creed isn't fiction?

  •  Empty. The. Spent. Fuel. Pools. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DamselleFly, petral, Russgirl


    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:08:25 AM PDT

  •  What fresh hell is this?! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JuliaAnn, sillia, Into The Woods

    It's the fascism, stupid!

    by lastman on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:12:27 AM PDT

  •  so the diary about the sun (0+ / 0-)

    not entering its solar maximum period on time, and not flipping poles is unrelated to solar flares?   Or has the solar maximum started and it is going gang busters?

    I guess we better hope that NOAA's funding is cut off so these flares can't happen.  Or at the very least our politicians can say, no one could have predicted . . .

  •  Coronal Mass Ejection (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jam, mamamedusa, Into The Woods

    Isn't that the title of a Yes album?

  •  Human-powered (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Nuke plants should have purely mechanical methods of cooling as backups. If all else fails, you can hand-crank pumps.

    "You can't run a country by a book of religion. Dumb all over, a little ugly on the side." Frank Zappa

    by Uosdwis on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:44:01 AM PDT

  •  Please tell me if this is or is not a reasonable (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mamamedusa, Russgirl

    step for us to take.

    Biofueled &/or solar &/or wind powered generators. For homes, businesses, hospitals, schools, NUCLEAR PLANTS. If what is predicted in this diary does come to pass, then life as we know will inevitably change. But it doesn't necessarily have to all change for the worse.

    If this type of crisis renders the current power grid useless and forces us to use alterantive energies, that is not a bad thing.

    It seems it's also a source of jobs. Manufacturing of generators of various sizes/power levels and that can run on various or multiple fuel sources, increased biofuel, solar panel, and wind turbine production - all this as a reasonable precaution for a crises which may not occur, but spurs us to do things we should be doing anyway.

    We have the opportunity to take a scary situation and use it to point human civilization in a significantly ore positive direction. Yes? No?

    Seems it might even give us an ideal opening to shut down nuclear once and for all. Which, if we cover everything with biofule, solar, and wind, then there's no need for nuclear, no need to go back to coal, and petroleum can be limited to non-fuel uses.

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:44:53 AM PDT

  •  I think you need to look at primary sources (4+ / 0-)

    I suspect that the articles you cite by reporters are sensationalistic. This solar cycle has started slowly and appears to be headed to be weaker than we've seen in many years. See my diaries and NASA and NOAA sources for the details.

    Of course, strong solar flares have happened in weak solar cycles. The electrical grid needs to be protected and strengthened. However, that is not a basis for extreme claims about nuclear safety.  Nuclear power safety needs to be reviewed systematically, not irrationally. I think your source goes over the top into fear

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 06:48:35 AM PDT

    •  Extended Loss of Offite Power Has Already Been (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      acknowledged by NRC as an area they have not sufficiently addressed.

      Their list of disasters against which they require NPP to prepare does not even include a CME triggered extended regional blackout scenario, even though the NASA funded studies, industry funded studies and insurance analysis all deem it possible.

      Events of sufficient serverity to potentially cause this type of regional blackout have occurred twice in roughly the last 150 years (1859 and 1921) so its not like we're talking about the odds of an asteroid strike or Yellowstone going all supervolcano on us.

      The low frequency here is easily offset by the high impact - exceeding almost every other conceivable event that would be anywhere close to that frequency.

      And the costs to address it are not that high.  It is simply the will that is lacking to acknowledge the risk and begin addressing the problem.

      It's already been a number of years since the major study came out identifying this risk.  Instead of vague reassurances that the "industry is working on this" where are the specific steps they have taken?  

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:05:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Preventative measures need to be taken (0+ / 0-)

        Fukushima showed the folly of storing spent fuel in elevated pools at BWRs. It's a nightmare scenario for plant operators in a worst case situation like a M 9.0 earthquake.

        Spent fuel needs to be removed and placed in dry cask storage so that it doesn't require active cooling to be safe.

        That said, as bad as Fukushima has been the extreme worst case fire scenarios did not happen even for a M9.0 earthquake and huge tsunami.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

        by FishOutofWater on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just Barely. (0+ / 0-)

          Yes.  It does not help to overstate.

          But the worse case scenarios were not avoided by much of a margin and at terrible cost (in the long run) to a small number of individuals that helped keep the accident from going to those next, worse stages.  

          That said, the magnitude of the earthquake at the NPP site was far less than 9 (closer to 7 as I remember) and there are basic design flaws that I believe are repeated here in the US that make this particular problem worse.

          I have seen reports that the cooling systems for the spent fuel pools are not even connected to the backup generator or battery power systems, on the assumption that the power will be restored long before the spent fuel pools would become a problem.

          It is this kind of fatal underestimation of risk that places us in the greatest danger if that estimation turns out to be false.

          For AC backup to be limited to 4-8 hours and for plants to assume that they can either always restore offiste power in a very short time fram or always obtain addtional fuel for the generators that they assume will continue to function seems unwise.

          That "lack of imaginiation" as others have referred to it is present in spades on the subject matter of this diary.

          If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

          by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:59:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  from Mander Minimum to this in two weeks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    Just a little while ago there was an article about how solar scientists expected the next solar cycle to be a pretty weak one - the Sun is waking up very groggy - and the doomsday scenario was that weakening cycles would build into a repeat of the Maunder Minimum: decades of abnormally low solar activity that unfortunately would do nothing for global warming.

  •  Mayan Long Count 2012. Solar flares. Coincidence? (0+ / 0-)

    We report. You decide. And could it mean...

  •  well, I for one will pray, pray that this doesn't (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean


    Instead of, you know, investing millionaire tax dollars into protecting the infrastructure.

    big badda boom : GRB 080913

    by squarewheel on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:46:20 AM PDT

  •  More good news! (0+ / 0-)

    Is it just me, or is there no good news anymore??

  •  This is the key point: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    itsjim, justalittlebitcrazy
    Earth is a very small target in space

    Without knowing the exact spread pattern of CMEs, my basic layman's analysis tells me that with four events, the probability of getting hit by one is about 1 in 18,000.  It's worth hedging against, of course, just not really a HOLY SHIT kind of thing.

    The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

    by Troubadour on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:54:49 AM PDT

    •  Correction: It's much, MUCH lower than 1:18,000. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That number would be based on the assumption that all four events occurred in solar regions on the plane of the ecliptic.  If they could occur anywhere on the sun, then the entire sphere of space at 1 AU in any direction becomes the probability space.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:59:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I interpreted it differently (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I assumed that the spread pattern had already been correlated to the earth's orbit to create the probability space. In other words, assuming X number of flares of magnitude Y with spread pattern v-hat, approximately 4 have a greater than Z probability of impacting the earth. Or something like that...

        Causation was, is, and ever shall be a slippery bitch, so we're best sticking with noting the facts

        by jam on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:25:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or Twice in the Last 150 Years. (0+ / 0-)

      Does that equate to 1 in 18,000?

      Fukushima was highly unlikely too.  

      Or so we were told.

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:07:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  December 21, 2012 Folks... (0+ / 0-)

    Do not ignore the Mayan prophesy!


  •  Very cool stuff. (0+ / 0-)

    It's hard to overlook the potential extreme danger; but the science is awesome.  This kinda seems like standing outside watching a thunderstorm roll in.  If you don't get hit, you're in for a good show.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:58:56 AM PDT

  •  dead link (0+ / 0-)

    and not just in the diary, but i also went to and found the article headline, but there ain't no article there.  hmm.  or is it just me?

  •  Rulemaking petition before NRC on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    petral, Into The Woods

    There is a petition for rulemaking currently before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on exactly this issue, filed in February 2011 by an engineer in New Hampshire. Although the petition focuses primarily on potential lack of power to fuel pools, we have been encouraging public commenters to include extended loss-of-power scenarios to reactors too.

    You can find out more about the petition here:

    It actually would be possible to strengthen the grid, and thus the reactors, to withstand huge solar flares. A very small group of people has been working on this for some time. One-time cost would be approx. $5 billion.

    Of course, no one in Congress seems especially interested right now, nor, for that matter, does the NRC seem especially interested in the petition at this point.

    But activism can make the difference.

  •  Another article (6+ / 0-)

    From National Geographic.    It sounds like there would be about 20 hours warning - I don't know if much could really be done to protect the grid in that time.

    From the article:

    "Improved predictions will provide more accurate forecasts, so [officials] can take mitigating actions," said Rodney Viereck, a physicist at the Space Weather Prediction Center.

    Even now, the center's Bogdan said, the most damaging emissions from big storms travel slowly enough to be detected by sun-watching satellites well before the particles strike Earth. "That gives us [about] 20 hours to determine what actions we need to take," Viereck said.

    In a pinch, power companies could protect valuable transformers by taking them offline before the storm strikes. That would produce local blackouts, but they wouldn't last for long.

    "The good news is that these storms tend to pass after a couple of hours," Bogdan added.

    •  Earth's orbit of the Sun is slightly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      elliptical - 147 to 152 million kms

      CMEs travel at 469km/s on average with the fastest at 3200km/s.

      It takes about 8 mins for light to reach the earth from the sun.

      Therefore, the shortest time for a CME to reach the earth after being observed would be around 12hrs 37 mins while the brunt of it is likely to take longer. Average CME travel time is around 3.5 days.

  •  Question: Would it help to shut down the grid? (5+ / 0-)

    A major disruption, but possibly worth it.

    Bear with me here. We can predict these events now. We have a bit of warning. Would it mitigate the damage to shut down the grid and make it a planned outage?

    This would require some advance planning. We'd need to warn people. We, for instance, rely on a well that has an electric pump, so we would have to stockpile water. And do something about stuff in the fridge. And I don't want to think about winter. National, state and local emergency planning would be required to make sure people on medical equipment were safe, some sort of winter shelter provided, nuclear plants put on battery etc. (There's a lot in that etc.)

    But surely a planned shutdown for a short period with minimal damage to the equipment is better than getting everything fried. And that is easier to get done right now than hardening the grid. Or is it?

    I'm not a power engineer. My questions are: Can the grid be shut down totally or partially and restarted at all? (I'm assuming that coordination is as difficult as the actual engineering.) How long would it have to be down? Would this really prevent damage (or maybe even cause more)? How much warning would we have? (It seems to be a few days anyway.) Or is it just impossible to do without such disruption and loss of life that we might as well take the hit?

    Resistance to tyranny is man's highest ideal. --Emma Goldman

    by Siusaidh on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 08:40:00 AM PDT

    •  Oddly enough the answer just beat the question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      by 33 seconds.  See the comment just above.  

      (Actually, it seems it would be shorter than imagined in your question: maybe 18 hours warning, 2 hours blackout.)

      •  But to coordinate that assumes all the independent (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        actors involved (hundreds of decision makers and thousands of decision implementers) are all informed and willing to make the decision.

        How likely is that?

        The authority to require it was, I believe in one of the bills Congress was debating on this issue.  

        If you remember it became "Obama wants to take control of the power grid so he can shut it down and force us into concentration camps."

        So it never passed.

        The other thing is the sattelites that warn us are getting old and need to be replaced on occasion.

        That costs money.

        Money Republicans are not willing to spend.

        So while in theory this might be at least a possible answer, it is a pretty small net for a pretty long fall.

        If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:29:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Short answer, yes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Into The Woods

      Isolating anything that could be isolated would minimize the damage.  (Orbital stuff is toast).  But as you said, everybody would have to be ready for it.  

    •  Less Than 1hr Final Warning (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because the internal configuration of the CME has significant impact on whether it will just 'bounce off' or 'pummel' the earth's outer layers of protection, and because that configuration is only known in the last hour or half hour before impact begins, the decision/action window is really very small given the $ and disruption that would be in the balance.  

      The reason it is not known until then, as I understand it, is that the sattelite(s) that gives us that information is that near the earth.

      I'll have to dig up the more scientic explanation of that, but it makes the "we'll just shut er down while the storm passes by" a much more iffy proposition given what's at stake.  

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:18:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Free Market will take care of it? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    But it will need the help of the police if not the Army to hold back the rioters.

    I don't know much about the correlation between solar flares and behavior on earth but I recall back in 1968 there was talk of a connection. . . . .

    This article has charts but I have no idea of its reliability:

  •  ibtimes link (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is broken.

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:05:57 AM PDT

  •  hibernating sun (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuWho, HoundDog

    There has been a lot of talk about the sun being less active than usual lately.  That's what people were referring to in your prior diary.  Not sure if anyone provided an example link:

    Maybe the big solar flare is an announcement that the death of the sun was greatly exaggerated.

  •  Just when you thought things couldnt get any worse (5+ / 0-) find out that--yes they can.

    As if Financial Crisis, Part II, coming to your neighborhood any day now; ongoing Congressional Warfare, with collateral damage to the safety net; riots in London, and elsewhere; famine in Somalia; the greatest loss of US service members in one day since the beginning of a decade-long ongoing war; the consequences of global warming; earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, volcanoes, tidal waves, and nuclear plant explosions--all weren't enough to cause a slow and steady freaking out, now we have Solar Flaremageddon!!

    Thanks, HoundDog, I needed this ;-)  Wonder what the odds are on which one of the disasters will get us first?

    •  We could start a pool. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:36:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's why it pays to be prepared for a 1%er. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because when you tally up all the things that could put us in the hurt-bag but have only a 1% chance of happening, how many can you name without even trying?



      And if they have a 2% or 5% chance, what's the chance you or someone close to you would benefit from being a bit more prepared to be self-sustaining and resilient if something like this comes knocking at your door?  

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 07:49:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I hope the people on the International Space (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maggie Pax, HoundDog

    Station are alright.  Without our atmosphere around them they can get clobbered.

    Never meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer.--Bruce Graham

    by Ice Blue on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 09:54:49 AM PDT

  •  Easy fix (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, Calamity Jean

    Defund NOAA. The Department of Education too. No more yucky, scary, science and smart guy scientists.

    This message brought to you by your friends at  "Teabaggers in Jesusland"

    An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics - Plutarch

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:22:53 AM PDT

  •  Please post the "NOAA Report" this is based on. (3+ / 0-)

    These are scary assertions.  I would like to see documented NOAA backup for them.  Where can this report be found?  Who authored it?  When was it done?  

  •  Will the people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    itsjim, Pandoras Box, turn blue, HoundDog

    wearing tin foil hats be protected?  It would be wonderfully ironic.

  •  HEALTH EFFECTS!? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, HoundDog

    So I know that Denver gets 1 mSv more in gamma radiation yearly than a city at sea level.

    And I know that increasing coronal activity REDUCES solar ultraviolet penetration of the upper atmosphere (by increasing ozone).

    And I know that flying during a solar flare can increase that flight's irradiation by a factor of 100 per trans-continental flight.


    What increase in background gamma radiation can one expect due to increased solar activity?  Will this increase be proportionally greater at higher altitudes than at lower altitudes?

    Is the increased radiation "focused" on specific spots on earth depending on when the activity occurs, or is it worldwide?

    •  All excellent questions, I'll research and report (0+ / 0-)

      back on.  

      But, give me a little while, as I have a lot of personal stuff going on at the moment.


      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 05:38:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Let's get a grip. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    First of all, aren't these the same people who have been trying to figure out why there has been a complete lack of solar activity during the current solar minimum? I mean zero...not so much as a sun spot.

    Second, Any predictions for numbers of large solar events are based purely on statistical data. Sort of like saying that your chances of getting cancer are greater if you sleep on the left side of the bed. If everyone starts sleeping on the right side, it won't materially affect their chances of getting cancer, but it will screw up the statistics.

    Third, The chances of such a solar flare being directed at the Earth is very small, given the size and shape of the sun, and where the Earth might happen to be in its orbit. The chances of such a flare affecting a major population center on the Earth are even less when you add the variable of the orientation of the Earth to the flare at the moment of contact.

    While there might be a slight risk, I really don't think it merits shutting down all the nukes and people moving off the grid. Also, whoever heard of a generator that is only good for 72 hours? A generator will operate as long as someone keeps fueling it.

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

    by itsjim on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 10:55:51 AM PDT

    •  What are the chances? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      First, no one is seriously suggesing moving everyone off the grid.  Come on.

      Second, the fact that we are relatively ignorant, even with our 'advanced' understanding, of how the sun works, is not a reason to say this can't happen.  

      Third, your 'size and shape of the sun' analysis is something I've never seen included in a scientific paper on this subject.  I'd love to see it backed up by something credible.  But in the meantime, we have something better than math theory.  We have historical experience, which in a probabalistic analysis trumps hypothetical math.  

      How often have we actually been hit with a CME of the intensity that has been predicted by our own scientists and those hired by the electrical power industry to be capable of causing such a disaster?  

      How often?  

      Twice in the last 152 years.  (1859 and 1921).

      Not asteroid strike odds are they?

      What were the odds we'd have nuclear war?  

      How much did we spend on that (are still spending on that)?  

      Low frequency but exceedingly high impact with only moderate costs to address.

      Yet we twiddle and hem and haw.  Maybe tommorrow we'll get around to it.  Maybe.  

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:36:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  HoundDog, thank you, some wealthy just can't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Into The Woods

    get their greedy minds around the possibility that science has forecasted  rain on the parade of present and future generations.   Oh well, rich or poor mattered not a whit when the Minoan's turf sank into the sea.

  •  Cooling water! If we manage to keep the power on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    using some kind of onsite generation that would be able to run continuously for months past the 72hr window, would we have water to replace any cooling water that boils off in the system.  

    Presumably those plants located on rivers and oceanfronts are pulling water straight from those sources and would be able to continue doing so.  But do the plants require processed water for the storage tanks or cooling system?   What other resources do these nuke plants need beside power for the cooling system and food for the workers?

    Republicans: They hate us for our Freedom.

    by mikeconwell on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 11:32:39 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for researching this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box, HoundDog

    It's very interesting.  I'm glad there still is a NOAA to monitor this stuff, and I hope that continues to be true in the future.

  •  has happened before with all the warnings (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    but almost always with little actual consequences

    •  What has "happened before" ? (0+ / 0-)

      The only times this level has happened before was long before we were this reliant on energy and long before our grid was this extended and this high voltage, and long before power swaping became the norm across long distances, all of which adds to the vulnerability.

      And even the must lesser CMEs have produced huge $ costs in losses.

      If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

      by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 12:39:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  These flares can be attributed to the increasing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods, petral

    number of photovoltaic collectors being installed here on Earth. We're consuming too much of the Sun's energy! Experts believe that recent solar activity is evidence that we are approaching "Peak Sun", if we haven't passed it already.

    It's time for a moratorium on all sunlight-consuming technologies until scientists at the American Petroleum Institute have had time to study the problem and make recommendations.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 01:11:21 PM PDT

  •  Solar Crisis (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods, HoundDog

    one of the best bad science fiction movies ever!

    Republicans - the party that wrecked America

    by ecologydoc on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 02:26:23 PM PDT

  •  Comparable or Worse Than "Trucks Stop" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, petral

    While there would be some differences, a widespread failure of the electrical grid in the US would lead to many of the same issues presented by the American Trucking Associations' When Trucks Stop, America Stops(2006).

    When Trucks Stop, America Stops

    A Timeline Showing the Deterioration of Major Industries Following a Truck Stoppage

    The first 24 hours

    • Delivery of medical supplies to the affected area will cease.
    • Hospitals will run out of basic supplies such as syringes and catheters within hours. Radiopharmaceuticals will deteriorate and become unusable.
    • Service stations will begin to run out of fuel.
    • Manufacturers using just-in-time manufacturing will develop component shortages.
    • U.S. mail and other package delivery will cease.

    Within one day

    • Food shortages will begin to develop.
    • Automobile fuel availability and delivery will dwindle, leading to skyrocketing prices and long lines at the gas pumps.
    • Without manufacturing components and trucks for product delivery, assembly lines will shut down, putting thousands out of work.

    Within two to three days

    • Food shortages will escalate, especially in the face of hoarding and consumer panic.
    • Supplies of essentials—such as bottled water, powdered milk, and canned meat—at major retailers will disappear.
    • ATMs will run out of cash and banks will be unable to process transactions.
    • Service stations will completely run out of fuel for autos and trucks.
    • Garbage will start piling up in urban and suburban areas.
    • Container ships will sit idle in ports and rail transport will be disrupted,
    eventually coming to a standstill.

    Within a week

    • Automobile travel will cease due to the lack of fuel. Without autos and busses, many people will not be able to get to work, shop for groceries, or access medical care.
    • Hospitals will begin to exhaust oxygen supplies.

    Within two weeks

    • The nation’s clean water supply will begin to run dry.

    Within four weeks

    • The nation will exhaust its clean water supply and water will be safe for drinking only after boiling. As a result gastrointestinal illnesses will increase, further taxing an already weakened health care system.

    This timeline presents only the primary effects of a freeze on truck travel. Secondary effects must be considered as well, such as inability to maintain telecommunications service, reduced law enforcement,
    increased crime, increased illness and injury, higher death rates, and likely, civil unrest.

    It is always difficult to imagine such things are possible.  And while they may be improbable, the threat is real.   So do we try to mitigate against the risk or just spin the wheel and let it all ride?

    If poverty and despair are not justifications for lawlessness, why are wealth and greed?

    by Into The Woods on Thu Aug 11, 2011 at 03:58:20 PM PDT

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