In 1989 a space weather storm caused an electrical blackout in Canada. The black area on this map shows where people lost their electrical power for many hours.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of M. A. Shea, Geophysics Directorate, Phillips Laboratory.
Power Blackout Caused by Space Weather Storm
Did you know that a storm in space could cause the lights to go out in your house? That's what happened to people in Canada in 1989.
In March 1989 a space weather storm hit Earth. It caused an electrical blackout over a large area. Six million people in eastern Canada lost electricity for 9 hours or more.
The space weather storm made strong electrical currents in our atmosphere. Some of that electricity caused currents to flow in wires in our electrical power system. That extra surge of electricity damaged some kinds of equipment. A major transformer was destroyed. That caused the whole electrical system to "go down". Lots of people lost power for many hours.
The blackout in Canada cost a lot of money and was dangerous. Scientists are trying to learn how to predict big space weather storms better. That could help prevent blackouts like the one in Canada.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
Space weather causes electricity to flow in our atmosphere. Sometimes that electricity lights up the sky! It causes the aurora (the Southern and Northern Lights). The electric currents in the atmosphere...more
We get electricity in our homes and schools from our electrical power system. Did you know that space weather storms can mess up the power system? When that happens, people are left without electricity....more
Space weather "storms" can cause problems on Earth. They can even mess up our systems that make electricity. They can also damage the wires and other equipment used to deliver electricity to peoples' houses....more
Did you know that a storm in space could cause the lights to go out in your house? That's what happened to people in Canada in 1989. In March 1989 a space weather storm hit Earth. It caused an electrical...more
Sometimes a whole electric power system shuts down. This can happen after a strong space weather storm. It is hard to get the whole system running again after it has been shut down all the way. The main...more
The Sun is huge. It has an effect on things even if they are far from the Sun. The "bubble" where the Sun has an effect on things is called the heliosphere. It goes even past Pluto! The place...more
Did you know that the Earth has a magnetic field? It's almost as if a giant bar magnet ran through our planet. The magnetic field of the Earth is like a huge bubble around our planet. This bubble keeps...more