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Thread: EMP does NOT effect most autos + everything else you ever wanted to know on EMPs

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    110 degrees in the shade TucsonMax's Avatar
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    Default EMP does NOT effect most autos + everything else you ever wanted to know on EMPs

    There were a few old/odd threads on this topic, so I thought I'd start a new one.

    The Commission to Assess the Threat to the US from an EMP Attack completed a 200+ page report last year. The participants are impressive and their findings, quite a read: http://www.empcommission.org/index.php

    The one thing I want to point out specifically is, according to their tests, only a few cars and trucks (10% they estimate) will stop running while 2/3 will experience nuisance malfunctions (blinking dashboard lights, etc) but will still run. Also cars/trucks with engines turned-off during the EMP experienced no problems starting, afterwards. The bigger problems associated w/ Transportation are: street lights malfunctioning causing huge traffic delays and gas pumps not working. (The auto section begins on p122.)
    Chance favors the prepared mind.


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    Quality Control Director Ken's Avatar
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    That's a great link. Thanks!
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Interesting take. We've discussed that possibility. The body of the car can serve as a nested faraday cage making the components safe. Of course, grounding is essential in non-automotive applications. I expect this will be a good read. Thanks!!!!

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I haven't read through the report yet (I will), but my understanding is a lot of what is affected by an EMP will be determined by the magnitue and location of the blast. Some studies that I sas basically said that three to four well placed, high altitude detonations would take out most electrical devices in North America. As far as cars - anything pre (don't remember the exact year) 1980 - 1985 should not be affected. Maybe this stuff is covered in the link you gave - I will take a look at it.
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    110 degrees in the shade TucsonMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    my understanding is a lot of what is affected by an EMP will be determined by the magnitue and location of the blast.
    This is true.

    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    As far as cars - anything pre (don't remember the exact year) 1980 - 1985 should not be affected.
    According to the report, this (common thinking) is incorrect. It's counterintuitive: "While electronic applications have proliferated within automobiles, so too have application standards and electromagnetic interference and electromagnetic compatibility (EMI/EMC) practices. Thus, while it might be expected that increased EMP vulnerability would accompany the proliferated electronics applications, this trend, at least in part, is mitigated by the increased application of EMI/EMC practices."

    (Pretty good, hedged, government-speak :-)
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I will read it. I'm basing my understanding on the studies that I read regarding the nuclear weapons that the ships I was on were capable of carrying. This may be a more up to date report, taking into account many of the advances in technology.
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    MMhmMmmm
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    A running car only does so when it has fuel to power it. They said gas tanks can't pump, and if gas stations are down I`m guessing super markets will be down / cash only. What about the factories that make the replacement parts? Will they be good if they are on the shelf / not in use or will all new ones need to be replaced? If they need to be replaced will the machines that are used to make them work?

    I didn't read the report, but more importantly than a running car how will the power grid / system be affected by an EMP?

    Would the blast burst their system and blackout the country? That seems a bit worse than a non-running car.

    And if that's the case then your solar at your house does no good most likely either.
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    Senior Member Schleprok's Avatar
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    Crash, would be older vehicles thatn 1980. Basically, if it has a point type ignition (non electronic) it will be safe. Most cars probably pre 1975, boats some years later. Most mid 80's vehicles can be retrofitted with systems from earlier vehicles.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I wasn't sure of the years. Well, I've read about half way through the abstract. So far nothing has been different from what I had previously learned. I'll finish it later then on to the book.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    MM - To your questions, we've experienced EMPs before. Here are some examples of EMP damage that has occurred because of solar flares:

    Satellites (upset and damage)

    • 1994: Anik E1 & E2 damaged (TV and data services lost to 1600 communities)
    • 1998: PanAmSat's Galaxy IV satellite (disrupted pager service across USA)
    • 2003: Extensive satellite upsets and damage due to a solar storm

    Power grid (especially Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers) (damage)

    • 1958 & 1972 : Transformer failures at British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority


    • 1989: Hydro Quebec power interrupted/damaged; Salem NJ nuclear plant transformers failed


    • 2003: 14 transformers damaged in South Africa

    Long communications lines (disruption and damage)
    • 1859, 1882, 1909, 1921, 1926: Telegraph lines disrupted, operators shocked, fires started


    • 1940 and 1958: Landline and undersea lines disrupted and/or damaged


    • 1972: US and Canada’s telephone system damaged/disrupted

    HF radio paths (disruption)
    • 1991 upset of HF radio support Gulf War


    Solar flares killed radio communications in North and South America in 2005. Same thing in 1998.

    EMPs are nothing new. A device designed as an EMP weapon would be.

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    Ultra Mega ********* sgtdraino's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Rick;131888]
    • 1958 & 1972 : Transformer failures at British Columbia Hydro and Power Authority

    • 2003: 14 transformers damaged in South Africa


    Were those Decepticons, or Autobots?
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Why Autobots, of course. The solar flares were caused by the evil Decepticons in their misguided bid to control All Spark, those dirty ....

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    110 degrees in the shade TucsonMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Man View Post
    A running car only does so when it has fuel to power it. They said gas tanks can't pump, and if gas stations are down I`m guessing super markets will be down / cash only. What about the factories that make the replacement parts? Will they be good if they are on the shelf / not in use or will all new ones need to be replaced? If they need to be replaced will the machines that are used to make them work?

    I didn't read the report, but more importantly than a running car how will the power grid / system be affected by an EMP?

    Would the blast burst their system and blackout the country? That seems a bit worse than a non-running car.

    And if that's the case then your solar at your house does no good most likely either.
    MM: My thinking on EMPs & Cars was all about the short term. If the EMP is an attack that takes down the whole grid nationwide and thus TSHTF, then:
    - For Americans: It will likely happen during the day, when parents are at work and kids in school. I think the first instinct of most people will be reuniting w/ their families at home. A working car will enable parents to get kids and get home, which will help calm the country. Or let me put it the opposite way, if parents were stranded at work and couldn't reach spouses & kids, society would break-down much faster.
    - For Members of this site: many may want to bug-out, and from what I've read, appear to need their cars to get started on their trip.
    - For me personally, bug-in for a few days until road travel diminishes dramatically (lack of gas, government telling the country to stay at home) and head for Mexico (under 1 hr drive), which, I'm hoping, after a few days, the border will calm down and be open.
    Chance favors the prepared mind.

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    Senior Member Schleprok's Avatar
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    I have come across a 1967 Dodge Coronet with an electric fuel pump mounted in the trunk connected to 30 feet of fuel line. Easy to drop into a stations tank during power outages and pump the car full. Gotta be attended. Yes, it was the station owners car.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I can't conceive of an EMP Attack let alone one that affect the entire nation. I'm much more concerned about the tornado that happens when family is separated or the wild fire or blizzard. Those could easily happen, could occur within a short amount of time, could happen with no advance notice (depending on where you are) and could serve to keep you and your family separated.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    While I agree that it is not the most prominent threat that we face, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities (I realize that nobody is saying it is). A large nuclear detonation in the atmosphere will disrupt electronics in a line of sight area from the location of the detonation. The scenarios that have three large detonations taking out much of the electrical/electronic equipment in North America assumes a fairly high altitude detonation. A less wide spread, but equally as devastating detonation could be accomplished from a device carried in an aircraft flying above 30,000 feet. It may sound like the stuff of Hollywood movie creations, but before September 11, 2001 so was flying aircraft into buildings for many. If (and it's a big if) something like that happened, while it would cause a huge disruption and panic it would be much easier to recover from. Not unlike a large regional weather event.
    Last edited by crashdive123; 07-04-2009 at 08:37 AM.
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    Wouldn't a detonation at that altitude have to be a very large weapon in order to impact the grid on a national level? I don't know, that's why I'm asking. I would also think we'd have much more to worry about in that scenario than EMP.

    In my previous post, I was also thinking of a pure EMP weapon rather than a nuke. I know EMP weapons are on the board but I'm not aware of anyone outside the US that has one functional.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I'm not aware of any pure EMP weapons outside the US either. All nuclear detonations will produce an EMP. The larger the blast, the greater the affect. EMP affect is defined by line of sight, so the higher the altitude, the more widespread the coverage. The reason I postulated an aircraft carried detonation is that those countries with the technology to perform high altitude (by that I mean at least 50 miles up) are not likely to do it. Launches are easily detectable, thereby retaliation is almost assured. Kind of like the mutually assured destruction stand-off that existed with the former Soviet Union. Obtaining a nuclear device is obviously not easy, or we probably would have seen evidence of that already. That is why there is such a concern with North Korea. It's not so much IMO that they will use them against us or another nation, but that they might sell them. I believe all of the blustering and firing of short and medium range weapons that they are doing is nothing more than a sales pitch to would be buyers. So, a detonation at an altitude of five or six miles would certainly cover a large area, but would be more recoverable than a high altitude detonation (IMO) since much of the country would not be disrupted.
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    Senior Member bulrush's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    That is why there is such a concern with North Korea. It's not so much IMO that they will use them against us or another nation, but that they might sell them. I believe all of the blustering and firing of short and medium range weapons that they are doing is nothing more than a sales pitch to would be buyers. So, a detonation at an altitude of five or six miles would certainly cover a large area, but would be more recoverable than a high altitude detonation (IMO) since much of the country would not be disrupted.
    Good point. Kim Jong Il, well, he is just plain crazy. But he may be reigned in by his advisors into not launching against the US.

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    110 degrees in the shade TucsonMax's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bulrush View Post
    Good point. Kim Jong Il, well, he is just plain crazy. But he may be reigned in by his advisors into not launching against the US.
    I'm sorry, but who reigned-in Stalin, Hitler?
    Chance favors the prepared mind.

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