The U.S. government has released a response plan outlining what it would do if a solar flare struck Earth and wiped out the power grid.
After working with 24 other federal departments, the White House released a National Space Weather Strategy and action plan on Oct. 29, the Houston Chronicle reported.
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from the sun could result in catastrophic damage to power grids across the globe if it struck Earth, experts warn.
In its action plan, the White House calls for nationwide cooperation among governments, agencies, emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, nonprofit organizations and the private sector.
The plan lays out a six-step strategy to help prevent potential damage. Recommendations include improving our ability to predict space weather, establishing an "all-hazards power outage response and recovery plan," and assessing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure.
“Frankly, this could be one of the most severe natural disasters that the country, and major portions of the world, could face,” space weather consultant John Kappenman told Gizmodo.
The White House plan also calls for strengthened international collaboration on the issue.
“If you take electricity away, either immediately or within a short period of time, you’ll suffer the failure of all critical infrastructure,” Kappenman added. “One of the concerns that we have is that in the worst case scenarios, we could be looking at weeks, months, maybe even years before restoration of the grid.”
So-called “preppers” are preparing for the eventuality by stocking up on food, medication and water. One source told Gizmodo that they had a five-year food supply.
Earth was last struck by an EMP in 1859, according to the Houston Chronicle. The incident resulted in the destruction of many telegraph stations around the world, Gizmodo reports.
Although solar flares are a relatively frequent phenomenon, they rarely end up coming into contact with Earth, the Houston Chronicle notes.