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
In 1989 a space weather storm caused an electrical blackout over a large area. Six million people in eastern Canada lost electrical power for 9 hours or longer.
In March 1989 a large space weather storm struck Earth. The storm generated 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!
Our online store
includes fun classroom activities
for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!
You might also be interested in:
Space weather causes electricity to flow in our atmosphere. Sometimes that electricity lights up the sky by causing the aurora (the Southern and Northern Lights). Electric currents in the atmosphere can...more
Our electrical power system supplies our homes and businesses with electricity. Space weather storms can mess up the power system, leaving us without electricity. A transformer is a piece of equipment...more
Space weather "storms" can cause problems on Earth. They can even mess up our systems that make electricity and that deliver electricity to peoples' houses. Sometimes really big space weather storms can...more
In 1989 a space weather storm caused an electrical blackout over a large area. Six million people in eastern Canada lost electrical power for 9 hours or longer. The blackout of the HydroQuebec power grid...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
There is a giant magnetic "bubble" in space around the Sun. That "bubble" is called the heliosphere. In a sense, we Earthlings live within the outer atmosphere of our Sun. The solar...more
Earth's magnetosphere shields our planet from most of the solar wind. Some solar wind particles do leak in and combine with ions escaping from the top of Earth's atmosphere to populate the magnetosphere...more