FEMA Planning Division

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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