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Originally posted by SavedOne
Originally posted by CranialSponge
Anything could wipe out the power grid for thousands of square miles all around with no hope of getting it back up and running for days, weeks, months, and even years. And a pissant little backup power generator designed for only temporary power interruptions will NOT suffice in such a large scale event.
Generators are intended to bridge the gap between outages rather than maintain systems for a long period of time, but nevertheless, they CAN maintain systems indefinitely as long as they are kept fueled. And as far as your "pissant little backup power generator" comment, I laughed out loud at that one You should see some of the generator jobs my office has done. They're staggering in size and scope. We did a web hosting facility that had a bank of 20 1 megawatt gensets housed in acoustical housings. Each one is around 30' long and 12' wide. We're not talking about a rickety little Home Depot 5 hp generator that you fill up like a lawnmower, you have no idea of what you're talking about.
Originally posted by CranialSponge
And here's another wakeup call for all you "asleep-at-the-wheel spoonfed deniers of ugly truths": A friggin "terrorist" could fly a damn airplane (sound familiar ?!) into a nuclear reactor surrounded by a highly populated area and within hours/days thousands upon thousands of square miles all around would be obliterated of all life.
Sure, and a meteor could hit the earth and wipe everything out, or the sun could go supernova and boil us alive, or a new ice age could freeze us to death or ________ (fill in the blank with the fearmongering scenario of your choice). One thing I've learned in my over 50 years on planet earth is the things that we worry about never happen while the terrible things that happen are the ones we never anticipated.
Originally posted by kro32
Has there actually ever been a recorded case of disaster from anything solar related other than a sunburn? Not sure I agree that this is a big issue.
August 28, 1859 - The Superstorm. - This storm was observed world-wide and is, historically, one of the greatest events recorded in the last 150 years. Extensive eyewitness accounts and scientific studies, telegraph disturbances and the unique sighting of a spectacular solar flare make this event one of the most interesting solar storms to read about.
August 12, 1880 - Shortly after 9:00 AM, telegraph lines in Hartford, Connecticut began to show disturbances. With the battery removed, messages could still be sent and received from Boston. By 11:00 AM the wires were working as normal. No aurora were seen at night.
April 16-17, 1882- New York City was bathed in a blood-red glow from a bright, 2:45 AM aurora, and continued until dawn. Astronomer Henry Draper is interviewed about the current scientific understanding of aurora. In Chicago, a corona was observed at zenith. Telegraph lines between Chicago and Milwaukee, St. Paul and Omaha were 'worked' without batteries. Observations were also reported from Cincinnati, Davenport, and Cleveland. In Cleveland, a priest and other people with 'nervous disorders' were reported to have been effected. [New York Times, April 18, 1882]. Other reports were cited from Poughkeepsie, Baltimore, New London and Hartford Connecticut [New York Times, April 17, 1882, p. 5]. There were probably two events involved, one on each consecutive night.
November 18, 1882 - The Transit of Venus Storm - It produced a compass bearing deflection of nearly 2 degrees, All telegraphic transactions east of the Mississippi River and north of Washington D.C came to a halt. The Chicago stock market was severely affected all day. A large sunspot was then seen covering an area of more than three thousand millions of square miles. Simultaneously with the appearance of the spot, magnetic disturbances at the observatory in Greenwich increased in frequency and violence, other symptoms were noticed throughout the length of the British Isles. Telegraphic communication was greatly interfered with. The signal bells on many of the railway lines were rung, and some of the operators received shocks from their instruments. Lastly, on November 17, a superb aurora was witnessed, the culminating feature of which was the appearance, at about six o'clock in the evening, of a mysterious beam of greenish light, in shape something like a cigar, and many degrees in length, which rose in the east and crossed the sky at a pace much quicker than but nearly as even as that of sun, moon, or stars, till it set in the west two minutes after its rising. The daily press was burdened with accounts of widespread magnetic disturbance, in some places telegraphic communication was suspended. In Milwaukee the carbons in the electric lamps were lighted, rendered incandescent by currents of electricity flowing on the wires. At other locations, switchboards in telegraph offices were set on fire and sending keys were melted, while electric balls were seen hovering on the telegraph in Nebraska.
November 1, 1903 - Telegraph systems of Western Union were affected from 2:00AM to afternoon. This was identified as most severe storm since 1888 according to Chief Electrician for WU. Transatlantic cables were also affected. Marconni Wireless Telegraph Company said they were not affected at all. [New York Times, November 2, 1903, p. 7]. Magnetic storm seen in France, Switzerland but not Austria, Italy or Denmark. But Swiss streetcars were disabled when power went out.
September 25, 1909 - Telegraph lines throughout US were affected. Some wires carried 500 volts of electricity and lit incandescent 'resistance lamps' in telegraph circuits. [New York Times, September 26, 1909, p. 12]. Aurora borealis stops telegraph [New York Times, September 26, 1909, B4]. Magnetic storm grips the earth. [New York Times, September 26, 1909, p.6] . Aurora borealis stops telegraph communication [New York Times, September 26, 1909, p. I7]. Aurora upsets wires:Mysterious electrical storm sweeps two continents
May 13, 1921 - The New York Railroad Storm - The prelude to this particular storm began with a major sunspot sighted on the limb of the sun vast enough to be seen with the naked eye through smoked glass. The spot was 94,000 miles long and 21,000 miles wide and by May 14th was near the center of the sun in prime location to unleash an earth-directed flare. The 3-degree magnetic bearing change among the five worst events recorded ended all communications traffic from the Atlantic Coast to the Mississippi. At 7:04 AM on May 15, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th street was put out of operation, followed by a fire in the control tower at 57th Street and Park Avenue. No one had ever heard of such a thing having happened during the course of an auroral display. The cause of the outage was later ascribed to a 'ground current' that had invaded the electrical system. Railroad officials formally assigned blame for a fire destroyed the Central New England Railroad station, to the aurora. Telegraph Operator Hatch said that he was actually driven away from his telegraph instrument by a flame that enveloped his switchboard and ignited the entire building at a loss of $6,000. Over seas, in Sweden a telephone station was 'burned out', and the storm interfered with telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe. Aurora were visible in the Eastern United States, with additional reports from Pasadena California where the aurora reached zenith.
March 25, 1940 The Easter Sunday Storm - On Easter Sunday calls to grandma by millions of people were halted between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM creating pandemonium at nearly all Western Union offices. [New York Times, March 25, 1940, p. 1]. A telephone cable between Fargo North Dakota and Winnipeg was found with its wires fused together, presumably from the voltage surges. Consolidated Edison of New York also reported 1,500 volt dips in three electrical generators in New York City located in Brooklyn and the Bronx. In Bangor Maine, lightning arresters were burned out as well. The New York Times noted that United Press reported earth currents at 400 Volts in Boston, 450 in Milwaukee, and more than 750 Volts near St. Louis. All tolled, the Associated Press's entire investment of 185,000 miles of leased wires were put out of service. Practically every long-distance telegraph or telephone office in the country was doing repair work in what was considered one of the worst such events in history. AT&T land lines had been badly disrupted by 600 volt surges on wires designed for 48 volts. In the Atlantic Cable between Scotland and Newfoundland, voltages up to 2,600 volts were recorded during the storm. Coast Guard radio stations were blocked, although compasses were not affected. Excessive voltage in the Boston and Kene telegraph lines 'blew fuses'. In several instances fuses were 'blown' and vacuum tubes ran the risk of damage due to these influences. Earth counts toll of sun-spot storm
August 2, 1972 - The Space Age Storm - Solar astronomers reported that Active Region 331 had produced three powerful flares during a span of 15 hours. The intensity of these flares, classified as 'X2' were near the limits of the scale used to classify solar flare X-ray power. The next day, the Pioneer 9 spacecraft detected a shock wave from the first of these flares at 11:24 UT accompanied by a sudden change in the solar wind speed from 350 to 585 km/sec. Space weather forecasters at the Space Environment Services Center in Boulder Colorado issued an alert that predicted a major storm would arrive at the earth between August 4. They were not disappointed. Armed with vastly improved technology and scientific ideas, they were able to realize William Ellis's 1882 dream of predicting a solar storm. At 4:00 UT, aurora were seen simultaneously from Illinois to Colorado and the events of this storm were widely reported in major international newspapers. At 22:30 UT AT&T reported a voltage surge of 60 volts on their coaxial telephone cable between Chicago and Nebraska. Another 30 minute shutdown of phone service on Bell's cable link between Plano, Illinois and Cascade, Iowa was also attributed to the storm. Both the Canadian Overseas Telecommunications Corporation and Canadian National Telecommunications reported that the current surges in their lines had damaged components in their system ranging from noise filters to 'carbon blocks' Taxi drivers received orders from distant cities and were forced to turn down lucrative transcontinental fares! Paul Linger of the Denver Zoo said that the disruption of the Earth's magnetic field by the storms would disorient pigeons who depend upon the field for their sense of direction.
March 13, 1989 - The Quebec Blackout Storm - Astronomers were busily tracking "Active Region 5395" on the Sun when suddenly it disgorged a massive cloud of superheated gas on March 10, 1989. Three days later, and seemingly unrelated to the solar paroxicism, people around the world saw a spectacular Northern Lights display. Most newspapers that reported this event considered the spectacular aurora to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle in recent memory. At 2:45 AM on March 13, electrical ground currents created by the magnetic storm found their way into the power grid of the Hydro-Quebec Power Authority. Giant capacitors tried to regulate these currents but failed within a few seconds as automatic protective systems took them off-line one by one. Suddenly, the entire 9,500 megawatt output from Hydro-Quebec's La Grande Hydroelectric Complex found itself without proper regulation. Power swings tripped the supply lines from the 2000 megawatt Churchill Falls generation complex, and 18 seconds later, the entire Quebec power grid collapsed. Six million people were affected as they woke to find no electricity to see them through a cold Quebec wintry night. People were trapped in darkened office buildings and elevators, stumbling around to find their way out. Traffic lights stopped working, Engineers from the major North American power companies were worried too. Some would later conclude that this could easily have been a $6 billion catastrophe affecting most US East Coast cities. All that prevented the cascade from affecting the United States were a few dozen capacitors on the Allegheny Network
October 29, 2003 - The Halloween Storm - This Halloween Storm spawned auroras that were seen over most of North America. Extensive satellite problems were reported, including the loss of the $450 million Midori-2 research satellite. Highly publicized in the news media. A huge solar storm has impacted the Earth, just over 19 hours after leaving the sun. This is one of the fastest solar storm in historic times, only beaten by the perfect solar storm in 1859 which spent an estimated 17 hours in transit. A few days later on November 4, 2003 one of the most powerful x-ray flares ever detected, swamped the sensors of dozens of satellites, causing satellite operations anomalies….but no aurora. Originally classified as an X28 flare, it was upgrade to X34 a month later. In all of its fury, it never became a white light flare such as the one observed by Carrington in 1859. Astronauts hid deep within the body of the International Space Station, but still reported radiation effects and ocular 'shooting stars'.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, nuclear plants in the country affected by a blackout have procedures to keep the reactor and spent-fuel pool cool only for a limited time of 72 hours.
Moreover, a nuclear plant without grid power is a recipe for disaster, as it will potentially go through a process of meltdown. It is also observed that the part of the country predicted to be affected by the solar storms host considerable number of reactors.
Once the spent fuel rod pools at the country's 104 nuclear power plants lose their connection to the power grid, the pools could boil over, exposing the hot, zirconium-clad rods and sparking fires that would release deadly radiation.
Nuclear plants depend on standby batteries and backup diesel generators. Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm, but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem.
If nature didn't create it, then we don't need it.
Oklo is the only known location for this in the world and consists of 16 sites at which self-sustaining nuclear fission reactions took place approximately 2 billion years ago, and ran for a few hundred thousand years, averaging 100 kW of power output during that time