What happens after an EMP Event (Natural or Man Made)? A question that many preparedness-minded hams have contemplated, but hard data & facts are scarce.
An organization Government Attic, https://governmentattic.org/, asked througha Freedom of Information Act request what would happen to say FEMA, after an EMP event.
They received as a response “Mitigation strategies for FEMA command, control, and communications during and after a solar superstorm” https://www.governmentattic.org/24docs/UnpubFEMAgeomagRpts_2010.pdf, which paints a fairly grim picture of what could face all of us in not only a Solar Superstorm, but by interpolation what could be in store for society after a purposeful EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) event.
In summary “low-frequency, high-consequence events like the Carrington-Hodgson superstorm of 1859 or the Great Storm of 1921 have the potential for catastrophic impact on our nation.”
On page 7, the section “GPS: A Special Concern” is very interesting, as FEMA studies suggest the GPS system with its older satellites has a special vulnerability.
Pages 13 & 14 identifies areas of the USA that will struggle to keep the lights on during an EMP event. Ouch!
In terms of HF, FEMA early in document remarks that they consider HF a non-core communications segment for their needs, and last in document remark that part of the reason HF is not well used is “Lack of trained operators.”
So what can we take away as hams after a Super Solar Storm or other Major EMP Event?
- Power will be unreliable to unavailable for segments of the country.
- Excepting LEO (Low Earth Orbit) Satellites, the functionality of Satellite Based Systems like GPS will be compromised.
- LEO based Communications (SatPhone) being a major communication method for FEMA and other government agencies may be “filled up” with their uses and needs.
- The same government types seem to be “meh” about HF, so provided we are allowed to operate HF as it returns post event might be a very useful and uncrowded communications area.
- Reading that the government leans to fiber for wired communications, hams may find an advantage introducing some fiber as an electrical “fire break” between their radio gear and the outside world.
- Spare gear may be better protected if kept in shielded storage (Faraday Cage designs).
About five years ago I had added a bit of fiber to my main setup:
The the main QTH moved I built in the same with an underground run:
(I do keep spare electronics for this link in a shielded container, though I expect upstream the internet likely will take some time to come back up.)
While I do have some of the other issues and opportunities covered, it is time I brush off plans and revisit.