Four Steps To Survive An Attack On The Power Grid And Blackouts

Four Steps To Survive An Attack On The Power Grid And Blackouts

Four Steps To Survive An Attack On The Power Grid And Blackouts

In “Preparing for the coming blackout,” we took a look at what would happen if an electromagnetic pulse caused by a massive solar flare or a terrorist attack caused a long-term blackout. This type of threat has gained considerable attention the past several years, but blackouts caused by violent weather are much more likely occurrences.

According to the Edison Electric Institute, 70 percent of power outages in the U.S. are caused by the weather. Fortunately, most of these power outages last a few hours or less and are more of an inconvenience than a tragedy.

However, sometimes the storms producing them — including everything from thunderstorms to tornadoes to hurricanes — are so severe that our aging and vulnerable electrical grid is unable to handle them. Some storms have been known to cause blackouts lasting days and even weeks.

In 1977, a lightning-sparked outage left 9 million New Yorkers without power. Extreme heat that caused high-voltage lines to stretch and sag onto overgrown tree branches in northern Ohio in 2003 resulted in the worst blackout in North American history. Eleven deaths and $6 billion in damages were blamed on the accident that shut down 100 power plants.

Ice storms cut power to more than 1 million homes and businesses in Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska in 2007. A line of thunderstorms caused a blackout for more than 3.8 million in 10 states and Washington, D.C., in 2012. An historic storm named “Nemo” struck the Northeast U.S. and Canada in early 2013, resulting in record snow amounts, hurricane-force wind gusts, and approximately 700,000 homes and businesses losing power.

Those are just a few of the thousands of storms that have disrupted power to homes and businesses in the U.S. through the years. And it’s not just storms causing this damage. Extreme heat is a serious weather factor causing blackouts. In fact, heat is the worst culprit when it comes to overloading a power system because air conditioners run much longer than normal during heat waves, causing power lines to lose some efficiency and transformers to fail.

As a society, we have become almost completely dependent on electricity. We use electrical devices and appliances numerous times every day, and we assume they are going to work just fine when we turn them on. During blackouts, we are given harsh reminders of exactly how much we depend on electricity.


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