What would happen to the power grid in Wyoming in the event of a major solar storm? The USGS has just released a study that shows we could be in big trouble in Wyoming.

I saw this shared by Space Weather. It points to a USGS study that shows what the effects would be on the power grid in different parts of the country if the sun releases a major solar storm. It's called "A 100‐year Geoelectric Hazard Analysis for the U.S. High‐Voltage Power Grid". It estimates what parts of the power grid would be most at risk if we were hit by a solar storm. Check out their maps. Note that orange is bad in this case.


This study is complicated to say the least, but here's the part that regards us in Wyoming:

The final region of interest is the Wyoming and Colorado high hazard region. There are several survey sites in Wyoming that have large geoelectric hazards (>1 V/km), seen in Figure 8, arising from the highly resistive Wyoming Craton. However, when the geoelectric fields are coupled with the transmission lines, these high hazard areas are not as apparent due to the sparsity of transmission lines through Wyoming.

So, that's good news and bad news. Our geography could help us in the event of a solar storm, but the sparsity of our transmission lines add to the hazard.

The full USGS study is worth the read and the last part especially applies to us. It's one of those scenarios you hope never happens in our lifetime, but is one that we always have to be prepared for since it could happen at any time.

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