Study: Storms in space could mess up Minnesota's power grid

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Strong storms in space could knock out Minnesota's power.

That's according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that was published last week.

The study found that geomagnetic storms impact some parts of the U.S. more than others.

The National Weather Service describes geomagnetic storms as disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field. Those storms are what create beautiful auroras, or northern lights.

However, a severe geomagnetic storm could mess up the country's power grid for months and even cause widespread blackouts, the USGS says.

"Resulting damage and disruption from such an event could cost more than $1 trillion, with a full recovery time taking months to years," the USGS adds.

Areas where the northern lights are visible are more likely to be affected, though. The study says the conductivity of rocks in the area also plays a factor.

In fact, Science Magazine says space storms could trigger power surges in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin that are 100 times more powerful than other parts of the country.

You can see the hazard map here.

Scientists hope this information will make it so power companies can better prepare for damaging solar storms, the Weather Channel reports.

How likely is a disastrous space storm?

According to the Independent, a disastrous geomagnetic storm that wipes out power would be considered a "low probability but high-impact event." Meaning, it's not very likely to happen. But if it did, things could be very bad.

The source says it could throw off GPS systems, stop planes from flying, and destroy computer and other electronic data.

A relatively small storm messed with GPS systems in 2011, Space.com reports.

National Geographic says that was nothing compared to the solar storm of 1859, which has been dubbed the Carrington Event.

People reported seeing the northern lights as far south as Cuba and Honolulu.

The results weren't so pretty, though.

According to Space Magazine, it fried telegraph lines all across North America and Europe. And if it happened today, it'd cause $2 trillion in damage.

Next Up

ambulance

State Patrol investigating fatal crash near Duluth

The crash was reported around 6:15 a.m. Wednesday.

eden prairie police squad car

Carjacking reported outside shopping center in Eden Prairie

One of the suspects reportedly displayed a weapon.

court gavel

8 people charged in Medicaid fraud scheme totaling $860K

Collectively, they're charged with 46 counts of felony theft.

vaping

Minnesota gets mixed grades on its tobacco report card

In Minnesota, the economic cost due to smoking is $2.519 million with 5,910 deaths per year attributed to smoking.

Hardy Wills-Traxler

Charges: Man stabbed his father, set his home on fire

The 25-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder and first-degree arson.

Impound lot

Crowded impound lot raises COVID concerns after Minneapolis snow emergency

A vehicle owner complains about the tightly-packed impound lot following the weekend's snow.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Wednesday, Jan. 27

The latest update from the state health department.

charley's

Charges: Bar owner, employee served underage drinkers during shutdown

The bar hosted 20-30 people on Dec. 4, 2020, charges say.

police lights

Driver wearing bulletproof vest strikes pedestrian in Rochester

The 21-year-old claimed the vest keeps him warm, according to police.

Related