Apparently, Texas is the only state in the union that has taken measures to protect their power grids. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the other states which have charged customers to fix the infrastructure never did so as greedy supervisors either partied in Europe or Asia with the money or stole the funds and headed to Mexico and then to South America where they retired in luxury.
Yes, if a huge Act of God (X5 or more) were to directly hit our power grids here in the USA or elsewhere, we could be without power for two weeks, months, or even for a year in some areas.
Remember that power is necessary for many water pumping stations. We have a pumping station down the hill from us as we are living in the foothills and our waters are mixed down in the San Fernando Valley, fluoridated, and then pumped uphill. We do have a small reservoir here, but it is used by firefighters whenever we have a forest fire. The dam is drained occasionally and repaired by the Army Corp of Engineers, but a huge earthquake (7 or more) coupled with one of these solar events could be a bad scenario.
Now, thankfully, this current solar cycle 24 is rapidly declining into a solar minimum and a general global cooling trend. The huge AR2403, which is now directly facing us, and which could unleash an Act of God, has not done so. For some strange reason, there is a providential pattern that whenever an enormous sunspot like AR 2403 is geomagnetically centered and positioned to let us have a real blast, it seems prevented from doing so.
After watching our sun closely now for four years since 2011, and having seen almost one hundred large sunspots pass by without doing any significant damage, I can only surmise that God is watching over us. And my faith in God has increased.
So far, the largest solar event of this Solar Cycle 24 has occurred on February 25, 2014 (Universal Time), which registered X4.9. Fortunately, this blast was felt in the Western Pacific around 5:50 PM PST on Feb. 24, 2014, so that it spared the USA. Although Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines felt it the strongest, this solar blast was not geomagnetically centered as the massive sunspot had just appeared on the solar disk. Furthermore, the CME which resulted from this huge blast was not earth directed, so the world was spared.http://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=25&month=02&year=2014
Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory tracked this material as it raced away from the sun, eventually forming a bright CME, pictured below.. Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the CME suggest an expansion velocity near 2000 km/s or 4.4 million mph. If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe. However, because its trajectory is so far off the sun-Earth line, the CME will deliver a no more than a glancing blow. NOAA forecasters expect a weak impact late in the day on Feb. 26th.
See this link for the beautiful auroras which resulted when a glancing blow of the CME hit the earth a few days later:http://www.spaceweather.com/archive.php?view=1&day=27&month=02&year=2014
And I noticed another pattern. If a sizable solar event were to strike us, it usually hits the Western Pacific area, where Australia and New Zealand seem to have a protected grid. I think it is this false confidence which leads unscrupulous men and women to abscond with funds that are needed to fix the infrastructure in the USA because the Carrington Event of 1859 did strike the USA during daylight hours. The telegraph networks and railroad tracks were fried and people close to the telegraph machines were electrocuted.
By the way, National Geographics did a study of this very question and published it in March 2011, and here is their report about what could happen:
First, high-energy sunlight, mostly x-rays and ultraviolet light, ionizes Earth's upper atmosphere, interfering with radio communications. Next comes a radiation storm, potentially dangerous to unprotected astronauts.http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110302-solar-flares-sun-storms-earth-danger-carrington-event-science/
Finally comes a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a slower moving cloud of charged particles that can take several days to reach Earth's atmosphere. When a CME hits, the solar particles can interact with Earth's magnetic field to produce powerful electromagnetic fluctuations. (Related: "Magnetic-Shield Cracks Found; Big Solar Storms Expected.")
In a pinch, power companies could protect valuable transformers by taking them offline before the storm strikes. That would produce local blackouts, but they wouldn't last for long.
Apparently, the CME does the most damage, and power utilities will have about 48 to 72 hours to take action in order to prevent grid damage. During the recent Solar Class M flares that we have been experiencing this past week, we have been disconnecting the power to our house during the daylight hours to save our appliances. This means that we can only use our computer controlled washing machine and our electric range during the early morning or the late evening hours as they are not protected by a surge protector. If you can find surge protectors for appliances, get them, but they are very costly.
With just the M-Class solar flares of the past few months, and with our weakened magnetic shield, quite a few of my friends and relatives have noticed that their electronic components on their gas heaters, electric stoves, and even the electronics in their automobiles have mysteriously failed. We talked with our local machinist who works with major automotive manufacturers to repair various makes of cars, and he said that he has been swamped with repair requests for expensive and late model cars. They have suddenly malfunctioned when we have had some solar events. Upon inspection, he found that the electronic components were fried.