• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Storm Warning: The Gloomy Forecast for EMPs

    Almost a week after the D.C. area was pummeled with raging storms, many individuals are still suffering in the July heat without lights, phone lines, and, perhaps most importantly, air conditioning.

    In the immediate aftermath of this event, tens of thousands of Washingtonians, Marylanders, and Virginians were left without power. Storms across the country had similar effects, and Americans from Richmond to Detroit are still facing the summer heat without many basic comforts.

    As awful as this is, things could be even worse. Imagine for a moment that that the power never came back on.

    The truth is that this scenario is not unrealistic. In fact, both scientists and military experts rank it as among the most pressing threats our country faces.

    These storms demonstrated with remarkable clarity how incredibly reliant the American population is on electrical power. If one week of storms can interfere with the lives of so many, just imagine what would happen if the U.S. power grid ever shut down.

    That would mean no computers. No modern transportation. No modern medicine. No modern defense infrastructure. America would essentially shut down, and millions would die. Doesn’t that sound like a very appealing prospect for our enemies?

    Scientists point to the fact that solar storms, in which millions of charged particles from the sun come toward earth, could interfere with satellites and electrical systems, potentially even shutting down the electrical grid.

    On an even happier note, this destruction of our electrical grid could be induced by the detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitudes. Military leaders point to well-known advocates of foul play such as Iran as potential sources of such an attack.

    If the U.S. does not want to fall victim to an attack such as that described in 33 Minutes, it is imperative that we take steps to prepare. Ultimately, this past weekend’s storms offer us a potentially useful lesson—if we are willing to learn it. They showed us how paralyzed we are without power, even for a short time.

    America must take a hint from nature and protect its vital resources. To do otherwise is to leave ourselves vulnerable to a storm from which we cannot recover.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Storm Warning: The Gloomy Forecast for EMPs

    1. occamsedge says:

      Funny, but we had a chance to learn the same lesson when Ike roared through the Midwest in 2008. What did we learn and/or do? Nothing. Now we are here again, where any X class solar storm could devastate the grid and the telecommunications industry, knocking us back to a mid 19th century existence level. But we have known this for years. What have we done? Nothing. Likewise, we have known about the potential effects of an EMP for years and years, which is unfortunately growing due to our increasing reliance in microelectronics. What have we done? Nothing. We have defined ourselves as insane. Taking the same action again and again – in this case no action, and expecting a different result. Shame.

      • stco says:

        I believe that most municipal utilities have back up generation capabilities as do vital defense systems. Most hospitals also have this capability.Also the dept. of defense has been preparing themselves for years for a emp attack. I still think it would take us awhile to recover ,but it need not be as devastating as predicted.

        • Ted Spickler says:

          The Problem from a nasty enough solar Mass Choronal Discharge is that backup systems will fail as well because all electrical systems will burn out. The devastation will be beyond imagination and that's why we are not preparing for this. Only the Amish will thrive.

        • ron says:

          You apparently have little understanding of EMP

    2. Bobbie says:

      how do these countries of torturous, oppressive dictate get the money to manufacture the devises to destroy?

      • Bobbie says:

        oops, I meant dictatorships…

      • Mike says:

        I hate to be a "peckerwood" Bobbie..but..have you ever heard of Russia..China & the likes? Those two countries alone would just love to see countries like Iran detonate an EMP over the U.S.! If you really want to wet your pants..just go online and just google "EMP blast radius" and just see what you get!! Its a scarey thought…

      • Jonathan says:

        From U.S. Technology.

      • Frank says:

        Bobbie,
        From our "good" allies like Russia and China.

      • Jim McClarin says:

        The same way our country gets money, through threat of force. But it's not just EMP weapons that pose danger but natural solar storms of sufficient intensity that can shut us down. I plan to remain off the grid and I have EMP-protected radios,solar meters, computer, etc. in Faraday cages for backup.

      • BigEd says:

        That's easy. They get tons of money from countries that buy their oil. You know, the same countries that keep electing people that won't let them use their own oil, coal, and other forms of energy.

    3. Cyndi says:

      from us

    4. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      A week ago Tuesday, there was a blackout here. A car hit a light pole and they had to shut off the power. What
      if it had been an EMP? The historian William R. Fortschen has written an alternate history novel about it.

    5. Herb says:

      A Carrington event was predicted by NASA for 2012-2013 until President Obama redirect NASA to improve Moslem self esteem world wide and the prediction was reversed to a complete absence of solar flare activity for the same period–the increase in solar flare activity is increasing according to the pre-Obama predictions, so 2013 should reveal a dramatic loss of electrical lines world wide, irregardless of Obama's edict.

    6. George says:

      The answer if an EMP were used to knock out our power grids shutting down most of America as we know it is, … M.A.D. (mutual assured destruction) We have submarines that can wreck havoc on any adversary who wishes to take their chances on messing with The U.S.A..

    7. whoever I am says:

      There is a really good book about EMPs. It is called 'One Second After".

    8. Jo Anne says:

      You only need to read "One Second After" to get a real idea of what it would be like in this
      country if our electric grid with all communication was suddenly snuffed out by either solar
      flares or our enemies knocking out those satellites which provide those services; definitely
      worth the read.

    9. Bob says:

      Most folks may not have learned anything but we sure as hell did. There is now a 6.5 kw gen set hooked to our house via a manual transfer switch. I added a tri-fuel adaptor kit so it runs on gasoline, propane, or NG. I had a hard start kit installed on the central AC so the stariting amp requirement was cut to under 30. That little generator will now power everything in the house including the central air unit if we do some smart power management.

      I put a low pressure NG line off the main house gas line so the generator will run for as long as the municipal gas grid is up. If tht fails we go to gasoline. When that runs out we will use propane.

      The whole set up sits inside one of those Rubbermaid garden sheds which we modified to cut the noise down. You can barely hear it from ten paces away.

      The entire cost of the set up is less than $1500. Pretty cheap peace of mind if you ask me.

    10. Recon Viper 1 says:

      A relatively primitive Iranian IRBM carried in and launched from the cargo hold of a rusty freighter could deliver a nuke to a point 50 miles in the sky and take everything out. This would be inexpensive on the scale of Iran's finances and they could use several sea launch units working together and bring the whole country to a permanent halt.

      Permanent.

    11. Jim Bob says:

      We had this same storm in 2003 in Memphis and it was mostly ignored nationally. Some people were without electricity for weeks in the hot weather.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_Summer_Storm

    12. Sly says:

      this happened last July in Illinois…had a bad storm, trees down, power off for over a week…many lost all food in refreigerator, no fans, forget air-conditioning…we are on a well and septic system which means no flush toilet and no water…had to get bottled water…won't go into how we coped with the toilet problem…

    13. MontanaaMEL says:

      OIL sales…
      ARMS sales…
      Dictatorships for the most…

      Any more questions?

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×