An unpublished internal FEMA report has finally been obtained via an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, which highlights the extent of damage a major solar storm, what they call the "100 year geomagnetic storm," would do to critical infrastructure in the U.S., including "Significant power grid collapses," which "could require 4-10 years to fully restore."
The internal "for official use only" document originated in 2010, and in February 2016, was requested by governmentattic.org and was released to the organization on May 24, 2017, according to the 70 page PDF they released on June 12, 2017, which includes the timeline of request to release, the FEMA final response communication with the requested data of any unpublished internal FEMA or unpublished contractor technical or management reports and studies concerning risks from geomagnetic storms, risks from solar flares, and risks from electromagnetic pulse.
Under the category of "assessing the risk" on page 25, they highlight the 1859 Carrington-Hodgson, stating "Anecdotal observational records of low-latitude red aurora hint that the largest events may occur roughly every 500-600 years, before dropping the bombshell "However, events strong enough to severely impact modern systems may occur as frequently as once in 100 years .
Indeed two storms, 1859 and 1921, were of sufficient strength that their repeat today could cause large-scale power grid collapse.
The previously unpublished report also details how close we have already come to seeing the collapse of the Northeast and northern Midwest power grids back in 1989:
Further, the March 13, 1989 storm that collapsed the Hydro Quebec power grid in Canada came within seconds of collapsing the Northeast and northern Midwest U.S. power grid (Kappenman, 2005). Kappenman (2005) reports that "the size and intensity of this Westward Electrojet structure, had it developed 5- 7 h later, would have extended from east coast to west coast of the entire northern-latitude portions of the US power grid, and is likely to have produced much more significant consequential impacts ... . " It should be noted that the power grid, due to deregulation since 1989, is actually more vulnerable today (National Academy of Sciences, 2008).
Being an older report, the dates where certain events were projected have already passed, but since space weather never ends, their chilling warning when they state "The threat is real," makes it very clear that the vulnerabilities of the infrastructure involved, has gotten worse, not better.
On page 13, shown in the chart below, they list the trigger/Scenario event as "CME arrives at Earth causing geomagnetic storm," showing the warning times listed as "15 minutes for geoeffectivity (17 hours from flare sighting). Affects: GEO satellites on daylight side exposed to solar plasma ; Some satellite communications and GPS signals severely disrupted due to scintillation in ionosphere; HF systems may work due to increased ionization at ionosphere F Layer ; Significant power grid collapses may occur in North America and elsewhere; could require 4-1 0 years to fully restore; "Last mile" telecommunications lost where no backup power available (e.g. cable, VoIP, data networks, etc.)
While many preppers understand clearly that in a grid down scenario, we are on our own, or part of a community that is prepared, but the government will not immediately be on hand to help, but those that have denied that any grid down scenario could potentially last for years, will be completely unprepared for the fact that according to this newly revealed report, FEMA itself, as well as "partners at all levels, specifically state and local emergency management organizations that rely on amateur HF for incident operations support, will be suffering disruptions.
On page 10 and 11 of the PDF, they list GPS as a "special concern, with the following explanation:
The Global Positioning System constellation provides location and timing information for users worldwide and requires a minimum of 24 MEO satellites to provide complete global coverage (GAO, 2010). The cun-ent GPS fleet consists of 30 operational Block IIA and Block IIR satellites with designed lifetimes of 7.5 and 7.8 years respectively (GAO, 2010 & USNO, 2010). The last IIA satellite was launched in 1997, thus all 11 surviving IIA satellites are well past their designed lifetimes (USNO, 2010). The IIR satellites began launching in 1997 and 6 of the 19 are now beyond their designed lifetime (USNO, 2010). The first of a new series of GPS satellites, the Block IIF, launched in May of 2010 and is undergoing orbital testing before additional satellites are launched to replace the aging fleet, but the program is already three and half years behind schedule (GAO, 2010). Even without a solar superstonn impact, "DOD predicts that over the next several years many of the older satellites in the constellation will reach the end of their operational life faster than they will be replenished" (GAO, 2010). Based on current launch schedules, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in September of 2010 that the GPS network could fall to 25 usable satellites by the end of 2012 and 24 satellites by late 2014, provided there are no further program delays. Again, this is without the impact of a solar superstorm. Should such a storm occur, " ... there is also the possibility that a number of the older GPS satellites may fail so that the full complement of 24 satellites needed to operate the network will be unavailable ... It may take months or years to restore the GPS system to full operating status" (Odenwald et al., 2005).
Again, because the report is from 2010, their reference to the solar maximum in 2013 coming at a time when the GPS network will be at its most vulnerable, no longer applies to the 2013 event, but now would apply to any upcoming solar events, since the system is still astoundingly antiquated.
While the report also provides other tables/graphs, the one below shows the "cascading loss of telecommunications over time," divided into four subsets, including 1) Immediate loss of service when power fails; 2) Loss of service after 2-8 hours without power; 3) Loss of service after 8-24 hours without power, and; 4) Loss of service after 1-8+ days (Scenario).
This reports clearly shows that it is not just a nuclear world war or a possible EMP attack via another country or terrorists that could cause a grid down scenario, but weather events that occur approximately every hundred years, with the scope of our technology, could so far worse damage now than they did when they previously occur.
Consider the fact that this report was created internally for FEMA in 2010, meaning the more recent reports along with risk assessments have not been shared with the public, but they must be at least as informative as this one, especially given Obama's October executive order dealing specifically with "Space Weather Events," which highlights preparing the nation for events like "solar flares, solar energetic particles, and geomagnetic disturbances."
Preparation is key and people should not get lax in continuing to prepare for the possibility of the power grid going down, because as this internal report and risk assessments show, things will be a lot worse than what the general public has been told previously.