Weather

FEMA Fact Sheet: Extreme Space Weather Could Mean Blackouts For More Than 130 Million Americans

Ever since I first mentioned coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, while blogging about the Doomsday Preppers TV pilot back in August 2011, I’ve witnessed an ongoing debate over the impact of such severe space weather originating from the Sun. Now adding their two cents is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On the website abouthomelandsecurity.com, there’s a section entitled “Survive Space Weather.” On that web page is a fact sheet from FEMA for the document entitled Federal Interagency Response Plan- Space Weather 2012. According to the people behind that site, FEMA wouldn’t release the actual plan to them, but they were able to secure that fact sheet earlier this month via the Freedom of Information Act. And from that document:

NOAA in their 2010 Strategic Plan reference a study conducted by two well-known researchers in the field, John Kappenman and William Radasky, who conducted considerable research on the resiliency of the U.S. electric grid. The study cites in NOAA’s Strategic Plan was done under the auspices of the National Research Council and published in their report, “Severe Space Weather Events” 2008.

According to the Kappenman and Radasky studies, they find that a future extreme space weather event, similar to the great Magnetic Storm of May 1921, could result in large scale blackouts affecting more than 130 million in the U.S. An intense geomagnetic storm will place more than 300 large extra-high-voltage transformers at risk of failure or permanent damage, likely requiring a prolonged recovery period with long-term shortages of electric power to the affected areas.

The affected areas in Kappenman/Radasky studies include most of the states east of the Mississippi River as well as most of the states in the Pacific Northwest…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The fact sheet went on to note that others disagree with the conclusions of Kappenman and Radasky regarding the severity of the impact from an extreme space weather event. However, the FEMA Planning Division did state:

There does appear to be general agreement among the experts that extreme geomagnetic storms could have significantly damaging impacts on the U.S. electric grid.

An informative read from FEMA and brought to you by the folks over at abouthomelandsecurity.com here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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In Print: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015

Speaking of farmers today, I was going through my father’s desk in search of a pad of paper while I was at my parents’ place last weekend. Opening a drawer, I spotted a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac tucked away in there. I just blogged about the Almanac in August, writing:

Back when I still lived under my parents’ roof, I’d sometimes grab my dad’s latest copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to read. Don’t know about the Almanac? From their website:

Since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don’t like the question of weather left up in the air…

Our operation is based in Dublin, New Hampshire. The words of the Almanac’s founder, Robert B. Thomas, guide us still: “Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.”

I thought the annual publication looked pretty “useful,” and figured once I grew up I’d buy my own copies.

I’ve grown up. And I recently purchased the 2015 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac from Amazon.com.

(Editor’s note: The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmers’ Almanac- in print since 1818- are not one and the same)

The latest Almanac reminds me of those copies I borrowed from my father three decades ago. With a smattering of ads throughout (a number of them are actually pretty interesting), the 304-page softcover book is divided up into the following sections:

• About This Almanac
• Amusement
• Anniversary
• Astrology
• Astronomy
• Calendar
• Food
• Gardening
• Home Remedies
• Husbandry
• Miscellany
• Outdoors
• Romance
• Special Report
• Weather

“Tabs” are provided for Calendar, Weather, and Reference information.

What compelled me to finally purchase a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac after all these years was last winter in the Chicago area. I wanted to find out if this next one was going to be as brutal. And since the Almanac claims around an 80 percent accuracy rate with its weather forecasts, I thought they might be able to provide some insight. From the “Weather” section, under “The General Weather Report and Forecast” area:

Winter is expected to be another cold one in the eastern half to two-thirds of the nation…

And from the “Region 6 Forecast (Lower Lakes)” area:

Winter will be colder than normal… Precipitation will be… near-normal in the west…

The Almanac goes on to predict when they think the coldest and snowiest periods will be for the area this winter, but I don’t want to steal their thunder here. That being said, I’m going to try and make the most out of this mild weather we’re having out here in the Chicagoland area, and finalize buttoning-up the house and prepping the property for when winter finally rears its ugly head again.

Besides the weather, the 2015 edition of the Almanac is chock-full of interesting, informative, and easy-to-read articles and other material (it would be even easier-to-read if they offered a large-print edition for people whose vision isn’t as great as it once was). I can see myself referring to the “Best Fishing Days and Times” (hopefully I’ll have the need to look this up!) and the “Reference Compendium” areas on a regular basis. And get a load of this piece in the “Amusement” section:

Solar Strokes

Yet another reason to worry.

In a review of more than 11,000 people who suffered a stroke between 1981 and 2004, researchers in New Zealand found that strokes are 19 percent more likely to occur on days with a geomagnetic storm… The storms had more effect on people under the age of 65…

E-I-E-I-Whoa! Good thing I “grew up” and got myself a copy of this resource.

All in all, The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015 is a nice addition to the home library, and I plan on acquiring the latest editions as they’re released.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, December 11th, 2014 Agriculture, Food, Gardening, In Print, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Largest Sunspot In 24 Years Pointed At Earth

There’s the potential for severe space weather directed at Earth in the coming days. Calla Cofield reported on the Space.com website this morning:

The largest sunspot to appear on Earth’s nearest star in more than two decades is once again pointed at the planet, and it will likely kick-start solar storms, NASA scientists say.

The massive sunspot, previously known as Active Region 12192, was turned toward Earth in October and early November, but rotated out of view. While it was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the sunspot did not produce any coronal mass ejections — hot bursts of material ejected into space at 4 million mph (6.4 million km/h) — which have the potential to damage satellites and power grids. Now the active region has rotated back around to face Earth again, and although the sunspot has shrunk in size, it will likely be disruptive, NASA scientist Holly Gilbert told Space.com during a video interview about the massive sunspot…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I watched that video interview with Dr. Gilbert about AR 122090 (formerly AR 12192). From the exchange between Gilbert and Cofield:

COFIELD: So why should we pay attention to sunspots?
GILBERT: Sunspots are the regions where space weather is born. Basically, where solar flares originate and these storms called coronal mass ejections, where tons of billions of material is being blown- sometimes towards the Earth- at over 4 million miles an hour. This can affect satellites, our technology. It can cause power grid outages…
COFIELD: Are you able to predict what are the odds of this sunspot having a major solar ejection or coronal mass ejection?
GILBERT: We’re not at the point at predicting when it will happen, but we have a good idea based on the structure of that magnetic field at the sunspot that it’s very possible that it will create some midlevel flares right now. When it was on the side of the Sun facing us a few weeks ago before it rotated around, it actually led to six massive solar flares and multiple smaller flares. So we know that based on the size and the complexity of the magnetic field that there’s potential for these flares to occur.

The chief of the Solar Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center added:

The coronal mass ejections did not occur along with those large solar flares. This time around, it’s more likely to have some coronal mass ejections associated with it even though the flares themselves might be smaller.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Massive Sunspot Returns- What’s the Solar Forecast?”
Space.com Video

Back on July 23, the NASA Science News website discussed the potential damage from a coronal mass ejection as strong as the infamous Carrington Event of 1859. From the article:

A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

No mention of what that could mean for human life in the affected region of the planet…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Cofield, Calla. “Monster Sunspot May Unleash Powerful Solar Flares (Video).” Space.com. 25 Nov. 2014. (http://www.space.com/27834-monster-sunspot-solar-flares-video.html). 25 Nov. 2014.

Phillips, Tony. “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” NASA Science News. 23 July 2014. (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23jul_superstorm/). 25 July 2014.

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Chicago-Area Urban Survival/Bug-Out Classes In December

Any Chicago-area readers looking to learn urban survival/bug-out skills in the coming month? Back in the spring I mentioned the C.U.M.A. Survival School in a post about Chicago Reader contributor Connie Vaughn taking such training from the outfit. I blogged:

I’ve come across the C.U.M.A. Survival School website before while researching Chicago-area prepper/survival training, and I’ve made a note to blog about it down the road.

This morning seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the school again as they’re offering survival training in December. From the C.U.M.A. website:

The C.U.M.A. Survival School specializes in no-nonsense training for everyone who is interested in Combatives, Self Defense, Urban Survival or venturing into the great outdoors. It does not matter if you are 45 year old civilian “novice” or a seasoned combat/law enforcement veteran; our goal is to provide quality instruction to anyone who is interested leaning valuable skill sets that can potentially save someone’s life…

The C.U.M.A. Survival School was founded by world re-known martial artist, CQC trainer, Book/DVD author, magazine writer and knife designer “SIJO” Waysun Johnny Tsai…

I e-mailed Waysun Johnny Tsai recently about upcoming survival-related classes they might be offering. From his reply last Thursday:

The Next one day 7 hour C.U.M.A. Urban Survival / BUG OUT classes are on Saturday, Dec 13th, 2014 and Sunday, Dec 20th, 2014.

The hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on either day.

Subject matter will include:

HOME PREPARATION AND BUGGING IN / SURVIVAL GEAR REVIEW (2 Hour Lecture/Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS).

THE BUG OUT : Basic Winter Wilderness Survival at the BUSSE WOODS (Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS / 3 Hours)

C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES: SURVIVING THE FIGHT (2 hours/ NEAR Schaumburg, ILLINOIS)

The cost for one day training is $150 per person …


“CBS CHANNEL 2 News on Urban Disaster Survival & Preparedness With The C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL”
YouTube Video

The class sounds real promising. Expert, hands-on urban survival training is hard to come by around these parts for some strange reason (or maybe not, as faith in the “Nanny State” among local residents remains foolishly strong). Busse Woods is a terrific venue (I used to fish there all the time when I was a kid). And I like that part of the instruction is dedicated to wilderness survival in the winter, which can get incredibly-brutal here in the Midwest.

This “keyboard commando” is certainly interested in enrolling some day.

Interested in the Urban Survival/Bug Out course or C.U.M.A. Survival School in general? You can visit the school’s website here for more information.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Brutal Chicagoland Winter Coming?

Brrr! It’s pretty chilly out here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. But I understand Chicagoland residents are just getting a taste of the coming winter, as temperatures are expected to climb back to around 50°F by Sunday. I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of chores to take care of around (outside) the house, so I’ll take any “warm” day I can get to knock those out.

A number of Chicago-area readers might be wondering- is this winter going to be as brutal as the last one? Especially as it concerns the pocketbook? Here’s something I caught in my Sunday paper the other day. From Julie Wernau for the Chicago Tribune:

The good news is that this season’s residential winter heating bills in Chicago, from November through March, are expected to fall more than $150 from last year.

A milder winter this year is expected to reduce consumption and cut heating costs even as gas prices in the Midwest tick upward.

“It’s going to be colder than average but not as persistently cold,” said Jeff Johnson, chief science officer for Schneider Electric Weather, which provides weather forecasting for utilities. “There will be intense cold shots, but we’re also looking at milder interludes in between.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wernau added that Peoples Gas is forecasting the average bill for customers this coming winter will be $912.66- down $176.84 from last winter. Nicor is expecting their average bill will drop around $125.

On the flipside, I had heard in the last couple of weeks that the winter of 2014-15 was going to be a nasty one again. That term “polar vortex” was being kicked around a lot. The boat hauler my family uses in southeast Wisconsin even warned me there would be no shortage of cold and snow in the coming months.

I really hope Schneider Electric Weather and the local gas companies are correct with their winter predictions, because I just heard my neighbor shoveling snow a few minutes ago. Time to bust out my work clothes and see what’s up…

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

Typical Winter Attire In Madiganistan

ANY CHARACTER HERE

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Wernau, Julie. “Winter heating bills could drop by about $150.” Chicago Tribune. 14 Nov. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-winter-heating-bills-1116-biz-20141107-story.html#page=1). 18 Nov. 2014.

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Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 Energy, Preparedness, Utilities, Weather No Comments

Sunspot Region 2205 Week Away From ‘Perfect Position To Do The Most Damage’ To Earth

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity know I blog about severe space weather from time to time. Here’s something I came across on Bloomberg.com today that might interest a number of you. Brian Sullivan reported:

Those Sunspots Approaching Earth Could Bring Blackouts

A new group of sunspots that has come into view of Earth has the attention of the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center.

The area, referred to as 2205, spat out an x-ray flare that produced a moderate radio blackout today, according to the center’s website. Earlier this week, it let loose several coronal mass ejections, explosions of magnetic fields and plasma from the sun’s atmosphere that can knock out power grids and disrupt navigational systems.

Most of the material in today’s flare, along with the earlier eruptions, was pointed away from Earth, thus sparing the planet severe storms…

Here’s what really grabbed my attention though. Sullivan added:

The sunspots that are now becoming visible will take about two weeks to traverse the side of the sun pointed at the Earth, [Forecast Office Lead Robert] Rutledge said. In about a week, the system will be in perfect position to do the most damage, he said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The potential economic costs associated with such solar storms are staggering. Consider this recent estimate from the FOX News website back in March:

“The cost of an extreme space weather event, if it hits Earth, could reach trillions of dollars with a potential recovery time of 4-10 years,” professor at China’s State Key Laboratory of Space Weather Ying D. Liu warned in a press release. “Therefore, it is paramount to the security and economic interest of the modern society to understand solar superstorms.”

Check out the entire article on Bloomberg.com here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

“The massive solar blast that almost wreaked havoc on Earth.” FOX News. 19 Mar. 2014. (http://www.foxnews.com/science/2014/03/19/massive-solar-blast-that-almost-wreaked-havoc-on-earth/?intcmp=features). 6 Nov. 2014.

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Chicago-Area Firefighters Survive Hurricane Odile, Escape SHTF Aftermath

“What we went through this weekend, the way we had to get ourselves out, the looting, the vandalism- it was like something right out of a movie.”

-Jim Kotrba, Hoffman Estates Fire Department, in a September 18, 2014, Chicago Tribune article

October 2005. I was in my office at a fire department in the northwest suburbs of Chicago when a firefighter/paramedic by the name of “Mark” stopped by. He had just returned from his honeymoon in Cancún, Mexico- early. The well-known resort had just been pummeled by Hurricane Wilma. “Mark” and his new wife paid attention to the growing number of warnings about the incoming maelstrom, and decided to pack up and leave the popular tourist destination two (?) days before it struck. I remember him saying the airport was pretty much a ghost town despite the ominous weather forecasts. In case readers don’t remember Wilma, here’s what the couple missed. From The Independent (UK) website on October 23, 2005:

Hurricane Wilma pounded the beach resorts and fishing villages of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula yesterday, whipping up 120mph winds and creating a 10ft storm surge that sent sea water racing through the lower floors of some of Cancun’s most luxurious beachfront hotels…

Cancun’s beachfront hotel district, constructed on a narrow peninsula, was completely evacuated yesterday. But in the city itself, only a small number of residents and tourists – 50,000 or so out of a local population of 700,000 – left on buses before the storm arrived. The others, including an estimated 30,000 foreign visitors, huddled in shelters and downtown hotels, where food and drink was due to run out yesterday.

With electricity cut off in advance as a safety precaution, the shelters – mostly in schools, hotels and gymnasiums – were hot, sweaty and crowded. Scott Stout, an American spending part of his honeymoon on an indoor basketball court in Cancun beneath a leaky roof, told the Associated Press: “After one more day of this, I believe people will start getting cranky.”

Weather experts in Mexico and the US said that Wilma’s unexpectedly long sojourn over the Yucatan meant that in effect local people were undergoing several hurricanes, one after another…

Fast forward to 2014. And the last several days in particular. More members of the fire service from that neck of the woods went to Mexico for a wedding-related event, and also ended up the victims of bad timing. Unlike “Mark” however, these firefighters didn’t make it out of town before a different hurricane struck. Becky Schlikerman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on September 17:

A group of 16 northwest suburban firefighters are stuck in Mexico after a hurricane ravaged the resort area of Cabo San Lucas.

The group had traveled to a beautiful oceanfront resort for the destination wedding of longtime Hoffman Estates firefighter Tom Mangiameli. About 50 friends and relatives traveled abroad, according to Mangiameli’s sister-in-law, Sharen Mangiameli.

The wedding was to be Saturday, relatives said. On Sunday, Hurricane Odile made landfall as a monster Category 3 storm.

Since then, electrical and water services have been out.

Tom Mangiameli and his group are still at the Hotel Riu Palace Cabo San Lucas, said Sharen Mangiameli, 55, of Naperville.

“There’s no food, there’s no drinking water and there are looters coming into the hotel,” she said. “One of my nephews has been texting saying when they try to leave the hotel they’re being attacked by the locals who are looting.”

(Editor’s note: Bod added for emphasis)

Tourists and residents alike dealt with grave conditions in the aftermath of the hurricane. Pedro Juarez Mejia reported on the Agence France-Presse website on September 18:

Residents of Mexico’s Los Cabos resort armed themselves with guns and machetes in hurricane-battered neighborhoods to defend their homes from looters, as troops were deployed.

The government sent extra federal police and soldiers to the Baja California peninsula to counter widespread looting that erupted after Hurricane Odile tore down homes earlier this week…

Chaos took over this week as hundreds helped themselves to food, water, televisions and any goods they could grab in supermarkets and retail stores after Odile knocked out power and flattened homes.

But now residents fear their houses are next, amid reports of armed and masked gangs roaming neighborhoods.

Dressed in white and holding everything from bats to machetes, sticks and rocks, residents burned tires and wood…

Rodrigo Sanchez Villa, a lawyer for a hotel group, told local radio that masked gangs were pillaging shops, hotels and houses in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

“The situation appears to be getting worse all the time. A lack of security is being added to the problem of shortages of food and water and the lack of local authorities,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bod added for emphasis)

Sound like it’s been a nightmare down there over the past week or so. Thankfully, this group of Chicago-area firefighters eventually escaped the carnage in Cabo San Lucas. John Keilman wrote on September 18 on the Chicago Tribune website:

One person in the wedding party found a transportation company that was willing to send six buses to the resort to ferry the group to the airport, Kotrba said. The buses arrived before dawn Thursday and parked away from the resort, while the group sneaked out of the lobby to avoid attention.

“There were hundreds of people in the lobby,” Kotrba said. “If the buses had been seen, there would have been a riot.”

And upon their return to the U.S., the firefighters’ tale of survival was being shared. Becky Schlikerman and Tina Sfondeles reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on September 18:

Sandwiches were handed out, then they ran out. Generators kicked in, then died because of lack of fuel and flooding.

“We were at the point where we made rope from a life preserver that was out by the pool and basketball nets and we started to build a little system to lift buckets of water from the waste buckets to flush toilets,” [Daniel] Pearson, 43, of Carpentersville, said from a Phoenix airport Thursday night.

“We had no cellphone service, food and water,” Pearson said. “We did whatever we could make do with. I have no dignity left. I took a bath in a fountain.”

Pearson is a former U.S. Marine. He spent nine months fighting in the Gulf War. And he has fought fires for 18 years. But he wasn’t ready for this.

I was in survival mode. I don’t think I was scared. It just got to the point where we had 48 people. What am I supposed to do? When we have to cut off our ironing boards to make weapons because nobody really cared about our safety?

(Editor’s notes: Bold added for emphasis. And I think that last line should have read “What am I supposed to do when we have to cut off our ironing boards to make weapons because nobody really cared about our safety?)

In addition to using iron boards to defend themselves, that Keilman piece noted the firefighters set up their own security system, with some men sleeping in the hallway outside their rooms and confronting anyone who walked through.

All this reminds me of something the English naturalist and geologist Charles Darwin once said about survival:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.

I’m grateful these firefighters and the rest of their party made it back to the United States safely. And I wish all the best to the newlyweds.

After learning about their harrowing experience, I’m thinking it’s probably not a bad idea for overseas travelers to bring/put together a small emergency kit if/when it makes sense, adding emergency supplies in the event of some looming threat.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Gumbel, Andrew. “Hour after hour, Hurricane Wilma batters Cancun.” The Independent. 23 Oct. 2005. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/hour-after-hour-hurricane-wilma-batters-cancun-512143.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Schlikerman, Becky, “16 suburban firefighters stranded in Mexico after hurricane.” Chicago Sun-Times. 17 Sep. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/29951882-761/16-suburban-firefighters-stranded-in-mexico-after-hurricane.html#.VB83fZV0zIV). 21 Sep. 2014.

Juarez Mejia, Pedro. “Residents grab guns to deter looters in Mexico resort.” Agence France-Presse. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://news.yahoo.com/residents-grab-guns-deter-looters-mexico-resort-230317288.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Keilman, John. “16 firefighters returning from Mexico after being stranded by hurricane.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/schaumburg-hoffman-estates/chi-16-hoffman-estates-firefighters-stranded-at-mexican-resort-20140918-story.html). 21 Sep. 2014.

Schlikerman, Becky and Sfondeles, Tina. “Firefighter recounts harrowing aftermath of hurricane in Mexico.” Chicago Sun-Times. 18 Sep. 2014. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/29970010-418/firefighter-recounts-harrowing-aftermath-of-hurricane-in-mexico.html#.VBxvp5V0zIU]). 21 Sep. 2014.

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Latest On Strong Geomagnetic Storm Possibly Hitting Earth

Last night I blogged about the Sun unleashing an X-class solar flare in the direction of our planet, and the potential for a strong geomagnetic storm due to a “likely” coronal mass ejection (CME) accompanying the flare.

Here’s the latest from the NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center about the likelihood of severe space weather in the coming days. From their website this morning:

2014-09-11 05:01 UTC A Pair of CMEs

G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms remain in the forecast for September 12th as a result of the coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with the R1 (Minor) solar flare observed on the 9th. The latest WSA-Enlil model run has the CME associated with yesterday’s R3 (Strong) solar flare arriving mid to late day on that same day. A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch has been issued for September 13th due to the combined influence of these two events with G1 (Minor) storming anticipated to continue into September 14th. In addition, the S1 (Minor) solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption yesterday is expected to persist for the next few days. Keep in mind that the forecast periods listed are in Universal Time so aurora watchers in the northern U.S. should be looking for possible activity both Thursday and Friday nights. Stay tuned for updates…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Okay, so the SWPC is predicting “G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storms” for Friday, September 12, and issuing a “G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch” for Saturday, September 13.

According to the “NOAA Space Weather Scales” web page under “NOAA Space Weather Scale for Geomagnetic Storms,” G2 (“Moderate”) storms are characterized by the following:

Power systems: high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage.

Spacecraft operations: corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions.

Other systems: HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55° geomagnetic lat.)**.

As for G3 (“Strong”) geomagnetic storms:

Power systems: voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some protection devices.

Spacecraft operations: surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.

Other systems: intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent, and aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50° geomagnetic lat.)**.

The damage from a G2 or G3 geomagnetic storm doesn’t appear to be too significant. G4 (“Severe”) geomagnetic storm events look like the ones we should be worried about:

Power systems: possible widespread voltage control problems and some protective systems will mistakenly trip out key assets from the grid…

The folks over at the Space Weather Prediction Center seem to think electrical grids aren’t in any real danger from this latest bout of severe space weather. Doyle Rice reported on the USA Today website this morning:

Major disruptions are not expected, even though the flare was classified as an “X-class” flare, which is at the high end of the solar flare scale. Wednesday’s flare followed a weaker flare late Monday.

“We expect geomagnetic storm levels in the G2 (moderate) and G3 (strong) range,” said NOAA space weather forecaster Bill Murtagh.

“G2-G3 geomagnetic storms can cause some problems for the (power) grid but are typically very manageable,” Murtagh said in an e-mail Thursday morning. “We may also see some anomalies with satellites so satellite operators around the world have been notified. And problems with the accuracy of GPS have been observed with this level of storming.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Rice added later:

The worst of the energetic particles streaming from the sun likely will miss Earth this time…

Did the Earth just “dodge a bullet” from the Sun? Guess we’ll know for sure after the weekend.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Rice, Doyle. “Solar storm heading for Earth.” USA Today. 11 Sep. 2014. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/09/10/solar-flare-space-weather/15415827/). 11 Sep. 2014.

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Strong Geomagnetic Storm To Hit Earth In Coming Days?

Survival And Prosperity readers across the world- Earth was in the crosshairs of a powerful X-class solar flare earlier today. USA Today’s Doyle Rice reported this evening:

A solar flare that launched off the sun Wednesday afternoon could wreak havoc with communications systems and power systems on the Earth, as well as with satellites in orbit, in coming days.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said the flare already “caused impacts to high-frequency radio communications on Earth today,” according to NOAA. “A coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with this event is likely, but further analysis is necessary to determine whether it will produce geomagnetic storming on Earth.”…

If a CME occurred, Earth’s magnetosphere will likely be disturbed and a geomagnetic storm could result in the next few days, NOAA reports…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Rice added:

Space weather forecaster Bill Murtagh said that scientists will know more about when and where the impacts will be when more data comes in later Wednesday and early Thursday…

I visited the Space Weather Prediction Center website, and here’s their latest on the event:

2014-09-10 23:18 UTC Recent R3 Solar Flare

Active Region 2158, now near center disk, produced a X1 (NOAA Scale R3 – Strong) solar flare today at 10/1745 UTC (Sep 10th at 01:45pm EDT). Impacts to HF radio communications on the daylight side of Earth lasted for a little more than an hour.

Initial information suggests that CME is likely associated with this event, however, further analysis is underway at this time…

Standby for more details.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Now, regular blog readers might remember the TESIS Geomagnetic Activity Forecast I named “Resource Of The Week” back on August 24, 2013. In their “3-day forecast of solar activity,” the Russians are predicting a 1 percent “probability of a strong magnetic storm” Thursday, a 20 percent probability of a strong magnetic storm Friday, and a 5 percent probability Saturday.

Time and time again I’ve blogged about the threat from severe space weather. This latest bout has the potential to be real bad according to what I’ve been reading.

I plan on checking back with the Space Weather Prediction Center (website) later tonight or tomorrow if necessary to find out the results of their “further analysis.”

I suggest you might want to do the same.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Rice, Doyle. “Solar Storm Heading for Earth.” WLTX19.com. 10 Sep. 2014. (http://www.wltx.com/story/tech/science/2014/09/10/solar-storm-heading-for-earth/15418653/). 10 Sep. 2014.

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2015 Old Farmer’s Almanac Predicts ‘Super-Cold’ Winter For Eastern Two-Thirds Of U.S.

Back when I still lived under my parents’ roof, I’d sometimes grab my dad’s latest copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to read. Don’t know about the Almanac? From their website:

Since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don’t like the question of weather left up in the air…

Our operation is based in Dublin, New Hampshire. The words of the Almanac’s founder, Robert B. Thomas, guide us still: “Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.”

I thought the annual publication looked pretty “useful,” and figured once I grew up I’d buy my own copies.

A couple of decades later, I’m all ready to purchase the 2015 edition of the Almanac that’s set to be released in less than a week. Now, I’m not blogging about the Old Farmer’s Almanac because it’s going to be made available to the public earlier than its usual mid- September release date- which is sort of news. Rather, this post is about the publication’s long-term weather forecast for the country in the coming year. Specifically, winter. Rik Stevens on the Associated Press website earlier today:

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the familiar, 223-year-old chronicler of climate, folksy advice and fun facts, is predicting a colder winter and warmer summer for much of the nation.

Published Wednesday, the New Hampshire-based almanac predicts a “super-cold” winter in the eastern two-thirds of the country. The west will remain a little bit warmer than normal.

“Colder is just almost too familiar a term,” Editor Janice Stillman said. “Think of it as a refriger-nation.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Refriger-nation”

I don’t like the sound of that. Stevens added later:

More bad news for those who can’t stand snow: Most of the Northeast is expected to get more snowfall than normal, though it will be below normal in New England…

Perhaps the rest of the country will get to see more like the following this winter…


“Reckless Tow Truck New York”
Warning: Language
YouTube Video

I like the fact that the Old Farmer’s Almanac has about an 80 percent success rate with its weather forecasts.

For more regional highlights and what could be in store for the U.S. after this coming winter, you can read the rest of that AP piece here.

No mention of winter for the Midwest though in that article. Guess I’ll find out what’s in store for us once I get my copy- and whether or not I should plan on shoveling/snowblowing every other/every third day like I did a lot last winter.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, August 20th, 2014 Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Downtown Chicago Could Receive Resilient Electric Grid

Some good news coming out of Chicago concerning the protection of its electric grid. From area electric utility ComEd yesterday:

ComEd to Partner with AMSC on Superconductor-based Resilient Electric Grid System
Homeland Security Project Seeks to Increase the Resiliency and Security of
Chicago’s Electric Grid

Devens, MA, and Chicago, IL – July 16, 2014 – AMSC (NASDAQ: AMSC), a global energy solutions provider serving wind and power grid industry leaders, today announced that ComEd, a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC) and one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, has agreed to develop a deployment plan for AMSC’s high temperature superconductor technology to build a superconducting cable system that will strengthen Chicago’s electric grid. The Resilient Electric Grid (REG) effort is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s work to secure the nation’s electric power grids and improve resiliency against extreme weather, acts of terrorism, or other catastrophic events.

“Modernizing our region’s electric grid is part of ComEd’s vision to strengthen power reliability and to connect our customers and this region to the 21st century digital economy,” said Anne R. Pramaggiore, President and CEO, ComEd. “We view this project as a natural extension of the infrastructure improvements and technological upgrades that have been under way for the past two years as we develop and deploy the smart grid. Linking our critical urban infrastructure to this superconductor system would provide added reliability, resiliency and security to Chicago’s Central Business District, an essential economic engine for the state and region.”

The current design of the grid infrastructure in many U.S. cities makes restoration of power after a catastrophic event time-consuming, costly, and unpredictable. Led by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the Resilient Electric Grid is a self-healing solution that provides resiliency in the event that portions of the grid are lost for any reason. The ComEd installation would be the first commercial application of this advanced technology in the United States

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Nice to hear a project protecting downtown Chicago’s grid is in the works, although to be fair, only three miles of superconductor cable is supposed to be laid.

If you’re outside the “Loop” you’ll be lumped together with the rest of us mopes in the Chicago metropolitan area.

The lights are flickering. Gotta run.

You can read the entire press release (.pdf file) on the ComEd website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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2.9 Percent GDP Contraction Casts Doubt On Sustainability Of Economic ‘Recovery’

Remember that U.S. GDP “hiccup” from the first quarter?

It’s been revised. And let me just tell you, barf-o-rama baby. Barf-o-rama.

From a Reuters piece on the CNBC website earlier today:

The U.S. economy contracted at a much steeper pace than previously estimated in the first quarter, but there are indications that growth has since rebounded strongly.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the economy’s worst performance in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month.

While the economy’s woes have been largely blamed on an unusually cold winter, the magnitude of the revisions suggest other factors at play beyond the weather

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Wow, did I just read that last part right? Usually the MSM plays along with that oft-used weather excuse as bad government economic reports are concerned.

The general feeling I’m getting tonight from mainstream media outlets is one of “don’t worry, be happy.” Of course, damage control is in overdrive. Jeffry Bartash reported on the MarketWatch website:

The revised GDP report briefly stunned Wall Street and clearly unsettled the White House. President Obama’s chief economic adviser, Jason Furman, cast doubt on the report and argued the economy is much stronger than the first-quarter contraction implied.

Investors, for their part, shrugged off the backward-looking report. The economy appears to have rebounded in the second quarter and economists polled by MarketWatch predict growth will turn positive again, with a 3.8% increase…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

3.8 percent increase in GDP in the second quarter? After revisions? It will be interesting to see if they’re right.

Personally, I feel that abysmal first quarter GDP report is a worrisome sign the sustained economic “recovery” we keep being told about is getting long in the tooth.

“Taper” to go full reverse soon, like “crash prophet” Peter Schiff has been predicting?

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Bad to worse: US economy shrank more than expected in Q1.” Reuters. 25 June 2014. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101787838). 25 June 2014.

Bartash, Jeffry. “Economy’s stumble in first quarter historic.” MarketWatch. 25 June 2014. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-growth-contracted-29-in-first-quarter-2014-06-25). 25 June 2014.

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Project Prepper, Part 28: Buying My Parents Some Emergency Preps

A couple of years ago, my parents in the Chicago suburbs lost electricity for an extended period of time after severe weather pummeled the area. I heard from them the morning after the event, and they weren’t doing so well. Without power on an extremely hot and humid night, the two of them fumbled around in the dark and hardly got any sleep. My Mom informed me that it was especially brutal on my Dad, who is an octogenarian with all sorts of health issues- mobility being one of them. During that conversation, my mother told let me that I should be prepared to evacuate him if the electricity didn’t come back on that evening.

Evacuate meaning carrying him down from their fourth floor condo unit in a building without working elevators.

He’s kind of heavy (225 pounds), so I wasn’t really looking forward to this task. Thankfully, the electric company got the power restored to their building before I had to attempt this.

Shortly after this incident, I asked my parents if they wanted me to help them prepare for the next time this happened. Shockingly, they were actually receptive to this.

Alas, I wasn’t able to assist them right away. So the next time I brought the subject up, Mom and Dad weren’t interested.

I guess this is pretty common according to the emergency management pros. An emergency/disaster strikes, and those affected initially talk about being prepared for the next major crisis. But then they never follow through. And the next emergency/disaster happens.

Seeing that the Chicago area just wrapped up its winter of 2013-14 a couple of weeks ago (there was an unmelted snow pile still on the ground two suburbs over in early May!), and severe weather often rolls through during the transition from winter to summer, I recently purchased some basic emergency preparedness gear from Amazon.com for my parents anyway (I didn’t want them to go through another hellish night like the one they experienced a couple of years ago). This included:

Coleman Twin LED Lantern

This lantern would be their main source of emergency lighting in a blackout. From the Coleman website:

Light the night your way with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern. Extra-bright at up to 390 lumens, this lantern lets you see far and wide while four Cree LEDs, which never need to be replaced, provide effective, efficient, energy-saving light when you need it. The rotating dial offers customizable light settings from low to high. Long runtimes—299 hours on ultra-low and 85 hours on high—will have you back home before you need fresh batteries. Its weather-resistant construction delivers reliable output, even in wet and windy conditions, and its base unscrews for quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them virtually anywhere, anytime. Powered by 8 D-cell batteries, come out of the dark with the Coleman Twin LED Lantern.

The twin LED lantern costs $36.44 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern

For when either of my parents go to a different room from where that twin LED lantern is situated. From Amazon.com:

The Coleman 4D XPS Classic Personal Size LED Lantern sheds 190 lumens of light, thanks to the super-bright Cree XLamp XR-E LED. The Lantern is Coleman XPS-compatible; it will run for up to 60 hours on High, 25 hours on Low, on 4 D-cell batteries — or use the optional 6V rechargeable battery pack (both sold separately). A diffuser tube provides a perfect beam pattern. The Lantern is weather-resistant to withstand the elements, so it’s great for camping and other outdoor use.

The personal LED lantern costs $19.98 on Amazon.com as I type this.

O2COOL NEW 10″ Battery Operated Fan with Adapter

I bought two of these (one for each parent). From the Chicago, Illinois-based O2COOL website:

Features Include:

• Dual Power sources: Plug-in with the AC adapter (included) or use 8 D-Cell batteries (not included).
• Powerful 2 speed 10-inch blade.
• Convenient built-in handle.
• Stable horseshoe base.
• Tilts for directional air flow.
• Compact folding design makes it great for travel; easy to carry and store.
• Perfect for camping and outdoor activities.
• Up to 40 hours of battery life.

Each portable dual power fan costs $26.85 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Yeah, I know these devices require a bunch of “D” batteries (which I already picked up and installed a couple of weeks ago). But my parents won’t use these lanterns or portable fans if they’re too “complicated” to power and operate.

I also picked up two 3.5-gallon WaterBrick water containers (discussed here) for my parents as well from a different vendor. I figured in addition to helping my parents cope with a blackout, I could help them deal with a boil-water advisory like the one that hit nearby Deerfield, Illinois, last summer.

A single WaterBrick costs $20.02 on Amazon.com as I type this.

Finally, my parents had some existing preps at their condo. Besides a variety of flashlights, I bought them a black Princeton Tec Fuel Headlamp similar to the one I own and use (discussed here, $19.38 on Amazon.com).

And while not an emergency radio, my Mom picked my Dad up a Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio. It’s handy and I can think of a ton of uses for it- besides getting information in an emergency. Plus, the price is definitely right ($12.97 on Amazon.com).


“Sony ICF-S10MK2 Pocket AM/FM Radio”
YouTube Video

I’ll still be sending them over a “real” emergency radio soon.

So a little bit of a detour in my “Project Prepper” series of posts. But definitely worthwhile.

Once I get back to my parents I’ll take some photos of these preps and share them with readers.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season began yesterday. And back on May 22, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told us what we could expect for the next six months. From the NOAA website:

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico…

While the forecast is rosy, I wouldn’t let my guard down.

Those living in potentially-affected areas should pay a visit to the National Hurricane Preparedness Week page on the National Hurricane Center website to help prepare against these severe weather events.

You can read that entire 2014 Atlantic hurricane season forecast on the NOAA website here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, June 2nd, 2014 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Resource Of The Week: Twotsi.com Space Weather Warning Service

Last summer, while seeking some resource out there that tracks severe space weather and attempts to forecast the resulting geomagnetic storms affecting Earth, I came across the Russian-based TESIS Geomagnetic Activity Forecast (blogged about here).

Recently, I stumbled on a similar resource called the Twotsi.com Space Weather Warning Service. Billed as “Free Solar Flare and Magnetic Storm Warnings,” their website says:

This service is pretty reliable since it uses data from the US Government Noaa service forecast updated daily, and the report updated 3 hourly so its nearly real time. If they go down due to a solar flare its too late!

We here at Twotsi have got rather concerned with the statements that NASA made in June 2011 regarding their inability to predict major solar events, and their issuing of a video to their employees on preparing for an emergency. We looked to see if we could find a free Alert service that would give timely warnings of an event but could not do so, so we found where the info was online and came up with a way to produce a system backed by the might of NASA and Noaa. Here it is…

The free alert service utilizes e-mail, and each alert message:

Will have a full synopsis of what is currently occurring and what is expected to occur in the next 24 hours. This includes information on ongoing and predicted Geo Magnetic Storms, Solar Radiation Storms (can affect GPS), and Radio Blackout events. This will also be accompanied by the latest 3 day forecast…

According to the website, users can set the level of alert to start receiving messages from, and can unsubscribe from the service whenever they like. A minimum of one e-mail every thirty days is sent to users “to assure you that the service is still alive and kicking.

Interesting resource- which I might have to sign up for.

The Twotsi.com Space Weather Warning Service website can be found here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Link added to “Resources” page)

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