The folks over at SpaceWeather.com have sent out yet another alert for a class 3 geomagnetic storm. This is the third G3 storm in recent months.
First of all, we need to remember that geomagnetic storms do not have the ability to destroy small electronics such as cell phones or other devices. Neither do they have the ability to disable your vehicle. These kinds of damaging effects are caused by EMPs…not the same thig at all.
There is however, the possibility of at least some damage to the power grid as long transmission lines start inducing current as magnetic fields pass over them. This was demonstrated in March of 1989, as not one, but two CMEs hit earth within hours of each other. Electricity was non existent in the province for 9 hours. To give you an idea of the strength of that particular storm, auroras were seen as far south as Florida, Texas, and Cuba. Some witnesses to these auroras thought they were witnessing a far off nuclear exchange.
Even though we now have a pretty reliable early warning system in place to monitor and warn of impending storms, they can affect power systems quickly. From the onset of the 1989 storm to the failure of a Province’s power grid, only 2 minutes passed. Even though Quebec learned from the experience and upgraded their systems, many utility companies have not. Should these updates not be capable of handling a strong enough storm, there simply won’t be time for power companies to compensate and keep the grid up.
These types of storms are coming at the start of the 11 year solar cycle, and could continue for a couple of years. Being ready for large scale power outages is prudent.