Revisiting The Carrington Style Solar Storm

I read a lot of science blogs. One of them pointed me in the direction of this little report from the publication Space Weather. It places the probability of a Carrington-style solar storm that could knock out transformers on a large scale at a one in eight chance by 2020.

On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, most notably over the Caribbean; also noteworthy were those over the Rocky Mountains that were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora’s light.
Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases even shocking telegraph operators.Telegraph pylons threw sparks and telegraph paper spontaneously caught fire. Some telegraph systems appeared to continue to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies.

One in Eight.  ~12%. I read that and I had to spend a few minutes thinking about my preps.  Am I ready for a solar storm? Am I ready for a long term disruption  of services? A disruption of the transportation, communication, banking systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration….

What are going to be the major challenges my community will face in such an event?  Here in NW Iowa, the plus of having lots of farmers is seriously offset by their advancing age and poor health. I imagine we’ll see a lot of heart attacks and diabetic comas in a long term event.  We generally have lots of water, but our winters are really cold.  We have quite a few trees planted in and around towns, but I wonder how long they would last if we needed to keep the population warm through a winter on wood fuel.  Maybe we could all whip up Methane digesters and harvest the abundant animal poop.  (Here’s one of my favorite videos on DIY methane digesters.)

If it happened tomorrow, where are my weak points? I know we don’t have enough cash on hand for something serious and long duration. :-D That’s more of a state of finances problem than it is a state of prepping problem.  I would probably miss the internet, and my reading lights that cheaply illuminate well past dusk. Really though, I think we would be ok.  Food and water and shelter and defense are all ready to handle a disruption of this level. Hubby and I have talked about our strategies for handling communication loss, even if one of us is away from home, at work or something.

I have to say, it was nice to have it all thought out before last week’s solar event, which NASA was warning would affect some satellite systems.  That peace of mind is totally why I go to all this trouble.

What about you? Was the solar storm last week a wake up call? Or just another reminder of why you do what you do?

Calamity Jane