Skip to comments.After the Lights Go Out: Is Your Community Prepared?
Posted on 08/30/2012 8:13:44 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg
This week, Heritage observed National EMP Awareness Day.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States would have truly devastating effects. An attack would change the very fabric of U.S. society, and millions could potentially lose their lives in the aftermath. Yet as the name EMP Awareness Day suggests, Americans and our nations leaders remain woefully unprepared to protect against this threat.
An EMP is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles. Caused by either a nuclear weapon detonated high in the atmosphere, a radio-frequency weapon, or a naturally occurring solar storm, an EMP event could cause entire regions of the country to lose electricitypermanently. Cars, cell phones, and computers would all be dead. Water, sewer, and electrical networks would fail simultaneously. Banking, transportation, food production and delivery, and even emergency services would collapse.
(Excerpt) Read more at blog.heritage.org ...
When the lights go out in the city and the electricity is all gone. I don’t wanna be the one to tell you we don’t have a back up plan.
Journey eat your heart out.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the United States would have truly devastating effects.Balderdash; the lone sole support for this is a 'tale' of series-wired fluorescent street lights in Hawaii blowing a line fuse ...
Let's take a look at a paper written by somebody who has taken a closer look at this issue (than me even).
Effect of the FAST NUCLEAR ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE on the Electric Power Grid Nationwide: A Different View(pdf)
by Mario Rabinowitz
of Electric Power Research Institute
Here is the abstract:
This paper primarily considers the potential effects of a single high-altitude nuclear burst on the U.S. power grid.
A comparison is made between EMP and natural phenomena such as lightning. This paper concludes that EMP is no more harmful to the power grid than its counterparts in nature.
An upper limit of the electric field of the very fast, high-amplitude EMP is derived from first principles.
The resulting values are significantly lower than the commonly presented values.
Additional calculations show that the ionization produced by a nuclear burst severely attenuates the EMP.
Not sure how many FReepers are old enough to have seen the above, or remember it, but it is in my book one of the best movies about collapse following a major breakdown of some sort. Not to mention I have always considered Jane Alexander in her prime to be one of the finest example of American womanhood ever, and always worth watching!
The power went off for an hour today, and we broke out the boat stove, and made omelets. :)> ...We are working on our survival skills.
One of my favorite post-apocalyptic movies. Mainly because it looked real. Not the special effects but the way people looked after society broke down. Which is why my opes are not too great for Revolution being all the promos I’ve seen has the young lady looking like she just got her hair done at the stylist.
Now that our society is so tech heavy would an EMP be more damaging? 1960’s electronics compared to 2012’s electronics.
wolf - but look up magnetohydrodynamic effect on long-lines.
A) We engineer for ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) today whereas we did not even just 20 years ago ...
B) The effects of EMP are overstated. (read the EPRI paper above). Starfish Prime effects on Hawaii were really minimal.
Is that the same thing as the E3 pulse of the EMP?
What did the EPRI paper say?
Michael Pritchard: How to make filthy water drinkable
Just wondering considering we’re so “chip heavy” as compared to 1960.
Man made EMPs are more problematic. Suitcased sized EMPs will fry all electronics within a few blocks. The nation wide catastrophe is if they deployed these suit-cased sized EMPs next to the 150-200 power junction points connecting the regional power grids - local power production goes on, but the balancing of supply and demand is destroyed. So unless your town gets most of its power from a steady hydroelectric source or natural gas plant that can moderate power generation to power demand or a local power grid with multiple power sources, we risk an India scale blackout until new transformers are in place. Areas that use more power than can be locally supplied risk brown outs and blackouts. Areas with greater supply than demand can scale back production but face challenges mediating power supply.
The other use for EMPs like this is someone surrounding Google server farms with these things in the back of a bunch of trucks and setting them off, shutting down a major portion of the internet and crippling, but not killing, the economy. Conversely, the same small scale EMPs could be used around the NSA / federal data center being built in Utah to cripple that.
Very large EMPs are the size of big bombs. Someone could probably ship those in via Mexican trucks or Chinese shipping containers. You'd end up with most high end electronics in a major city permanently toasted, a local blackout that takes weeks to repair as you spend time replacing everything burnt out, and deaths from pacemakers, insulin pumps and elevators failing. If there was an attack similar to a large nuclear scale strike on major cities, the same places that are safe from nuclear blasts due to distance and protective mountain ranges are safe from EMP blasts. As with all radiation, twice as far away reduces its strength to a quarter. A number of BIG EMP blasts in the major cities, or even just big ports like Boston, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco could cripple the nation. Not many people would die from these blasts. But if it were set off in a port, you're also in range of the connecting railroad stations and within a short distance of airports, highways and the transportation control centers that keep our Just in Time Economy going. Imagine a traffic jam like people trying to flee Hurricane Katrina, but it is all the people who want to leave AND all the trains are stopped AND all the planes are stuck AND most ships are dead in the water.
People inland and in rural areas are physically fine. Their local water, sewer and probably power are unaffected at first. Then the impact of a JIT delivery system hits. Stores empty from lack of deliveries from the coasts, businesses suffer from challenges shipping anything out, and anyone dependent upon imports suffers. Imagine the business disruptions because of the Japanese tsumani leaving their suppliers short, and then do it to several major manufacturing cities and the hubs that connect the rest of the country. Even if your factory is fine, if you have trouble getting key components, you're idle. And if someone sets of a large EMP weapon somewhere like Houston and Lake Charles, LA at the same time, they've just destroyed a huge proportion of our refining capacity.
And the so called "smart grid" where all appliances are smarter and everything talks to everything else to monitor and manage power usage just makes us MORE vulnerable to EMP strikes.
I think just like many things, we would be looking at bell curve type results.
There would be some areas very heavily hit where nothing electronic works. Not the grid, not the cell towers, not computers or even most transistorized radios.
But there would in all likelihood be other areas where the damage would be much less severe.
A study of the whys/wherefores is something that could only be done following the event.
I don’t know what an EMP burst would do to the electrical grid. All I know is that if city folk are without electricity for even a short period of time, things get nasty in a hurry! Rural folks with their own well and septic and generator will do fine for much longer. For city folks, especially large city folks, the loss of electricity would lead to loss of sewage treatment/removal, loss of drinking water, and loss of refrigeration.
Our society, especially the generations of the last 60 years or so, have grown up with the ability to get their food or water on a moments notice without having to plan ahead. An interuption of that immediate source of food and water and sanitation would make big cities a mess with the power going to those groups organized with guns and the desire to use them at will (gangs).
I would not live in a big city in these sketchy times. You may be a great shot, but without numbers, you’ll be over-run. If you have a family, the amount of stuff you’d have to have ready to bug-out, is a lot, and there is no guarentee that roads will be useable (probably clogged or patrolled by gangs/groups).
Regardless of where you live, rural or urban, become part of some kind of group with like mindedness on survival. United you can stand, divided or individually, you will fall.
A study of the whys/wherefores is something that could only be done following the event.We do this already, it's called ESD testing and EMI susceptibility testing.
I get the impression I'm talking to a civilian on your end?
Even consumer stuff today gets ESD testing performed on it ... I've had equipment take direct strikes by lighting even; on a GE "MASTR PRO" repeater the arc marks were obvious, and included an 'entry' into the 'squelch' circuit ... I lost a single TO-5 cased transistor there ... EMP is NO WHERE near as intense. Read the EPRI paper ...
Read the EPRI paper above ... Geesh. Quit guessing.
Asked and answer already (SEE ONE OF THE LINKS I POSTED EARLY ON IN THIS THREAD FROM A COUPLE YEARS BACK - sorry for shouting); 'chips' have integral ESD protection (I *know* you guys aren't industry types, even TI has an available ESD design guide for designers on this subject)
I see why Christ only came to earth once now too.
Very large EMPs are the size of big bombs. Someone could probably ship those in via Mexican trucks or Chinese shipping containers.That's going to be wholly ineffective (a ground burst) in generating EMP.
System-Level ESD/EMI Protection Guide
I aint guessing. If you read my whole post you would have seen I was talking about survival plan in the event of a long term loss of electricity, specifically in a city.
.....Geesh, Quit assuming to be god and read a whole post!
Your words were (and I quote): “I dont know what an EMP burst would do to the electrical grid.”
Read, become enlightened, don’t guess.
To do otherwise, well, start practicing various superstitions ...
Did spell checking or proof reading exist when this paper was written? Tons of spelling errors for a “scholarly” paper. I know it’s nit picking. But, simple mistakes in writing bother me.
The question I have is this: much of the discussion is the impact on long lines. My concern would be all of the electrons hitting small wires in end use, consumer electronics ( my car for example). These electrons would not hit at one end and surge down the line. Rather the line would be blasted in an instant— overwhelming the circuit. It’s not so much a surge through the system, but rather like getting ton of bricks getting dropped on you all at once.
I am not an electrical engineer, but the “normal” emp description seems to make sense..and yet this paper says in essence, it’s no worse than a lightening strike.
What do you think about that?
You can study things and try to build in safeguards all you want.
But when the reality hits the fan, you find out the studies were right about some things and totally off about others.
Last winter we had a bad ice storm here, and 6:30 in the morning, my power went out. I went on my porch and over the course of the next 20 minutes or so, watched the blue flashes in the sky and heard the booms of the various transformers blowing.
Power outages were widespread, and since my area is usually one of the first affected, I hunkered down and expected to be out for a week or longer.
Surprisingly, my power came on about three days later. But there were areas around me that were more urban that were out for the week.
Look, I agree with you I don’t think EMP would be as bad as we keep hearing. Some areas would get hit hard, other areas might seem relatively untouched. The same scenario could happen in the event of a major solar storm.
And I agree that testing can help.
But testing itself doesn’t tell us all the circumstances, nor does it guarantee that everything is hardened and won’t suffer if an event occurs.
Google Carrington Event.
Yeah, and your assuming that one article settles the whole deal. Well you can go on and assume one particular side is absolutely correct. That’s fine. That’s your option.
I could read that particular article and then I could read a number of other scientific articles which espouse a different conclusion and decide which side of the fence I fall on, but I won’t, because quite frankly, I don’t really care. Hense the reason I said that I don’t know because I haven’t fully researched that specific topic. (For your information, one paper isn’t research.)
I think that your assumption that one paper solves an issue is very foolish.
Now, back to what I was saying.....I’m not arguing whether an EMP pulse will or will not take out any part of our electrical grid, what I am saying is if the electrical grid collapses for ANY reason for any length of time, city folks will suffer the most. (BTW, I do work in the power industry and I do know of some weaknesses in our grid, but it’s not necessary or wise to discuss them.)
Excellent! THANK YOU! That, is the kind of stuff I am looking for.
I've been trying to pin it down for 20 years or so, and I just can't figure out which side is right.
I lean toward it affecting a region pretty seriously and causing a massive financial meltdown by ripple effect, similar to 2 or 3 9/11s happening at once.
It isn't that it wipes out so many people, or causes the dark ages, but that it is such a disruption, that in an economic sense, it ripples out and keeps knocking down more and more businesses, and industries (or however economic ripples work). That could throw us into a kind of economic dark ages where we get services back and gasoline, but with a great depression type meltdown, and economic desperation for a huge portion of our now urban nation.
Good movie though, no bombs or action, just everyday life in the fresh and gradually deteriorating aftermath, (not years later).
Yes, and there appear to be some inaccuracies in the commonly referenced Wikipedia article:
Still, the detonation was 250 miles up, 500 miles away, and was not a "designed" or optimized EMP attack. Given the distance, the effects are moderately impressive to me.
OTOH, by inverse square law alone, it would seem that an EMP could have some serious local effects. The paper you link to does say something like this, just before the conclusion, while neglecting the kind of cascade effects sometimes seen in widespread power and other outages. Then again, of course, if you are really local to a 1.4 megaton blast, you are in serious trouble anyway!
Hmmm... An oddity, perhaps, in the EPRI article: Just looking on it on Google Maps, Johnston Island sure looks like a lot more than 500 miles away from Honolulu. More like 800+? In fact, I found this map:
I’d also note that the EPRI article does mention damage to various satellites caused by radiation (not EMP, strictly speaking), and in fact Starfish Prime’s radiation did eventually “kill” 6 satellites, and probably damaged 3 more. This is a serious concern.
More interesting reading and references, here:
Russian and Chinese military scientists in open source writings describe the basic principles of nuclear weapons designed specifically to generate an enhanced-EMP effect, that they term Super-EMP weapons. Super-EMP weapons, according to these foreign open source writings, can destroy even the best protected U.S. military and civilian electronic systems.
The entire document is pretty interesting, and the information is a little "scarier" than what I'd thought previously:
Consider the next-to-last paragraph:
In 2004, the EMP Commission met with very senior Russian military officers, who are experts on EMP weapons. They warned that Russian scientists had been recruited by Pyongyang to work on the North Korean nuclear weapons program. They further warned that the knowledge and technology to develop Super-EMP weapons had been transferred to North Korea, and that North Korea could probably develop these weapons in the near future, within a few years. The Russian officers said that the threat to global security that would be posed by a North Korea armed with Super-EMP weapons is unacceptable. The senior Russian military officers, who claimed to be expressing their personal views to the EMP Commission, said that, while the Kremlin could not publicly endorse U.S. preemptive action, Moscow would privately understand the strategic necessity of a preemptive strike by the United States against North Koreas nuclear complex.
Excellent! Thank you very much. As usual FReepers have given more than I could’ve hoped for! This will fit nicely into my research package!
lights out ping
October is coming...
Very true. Items get EMI testing just to handle cell phone signals, wi-fi and other background radiation.
If its in the cargo container, yeah - it has its own Faraday cage. If put into the open air before detonation, it would be effective.
I’ve seen the movie several times...and it’s fantastic. I only wish I could obtain a DVD. The only way to watch is on youtube.