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Insurance Claims Reveal Hidden Electronic Damage From Geomagnetic Storms 78

KentuckyFC writes: On 13 March 1989, a powerful geomagnetic storm severely disrupted the Hydro-Québec high-voltage grid triggering numerous circuit breakers and blacking out much of eastern Canada and the northeastern U.S. Since then, Earth has been hit by numerous solar maelstroms without such large-scale disruption. But the smaller-scale effect of these storms on low voltage transmissions lines, and the equipment connected to them, has been unknown. Until now. Researchers from the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory have analyzed insurance claims for damage to industrial electrical equipment between 2000 and 2010 and found a clear correlation with geomagnetic activity. They say that the number of claims increases by up to 20 per cent on the days of highest geomagnetic activity. On this basis, they calculate that the economic impact of geomagnetic damage must amount to several billion dollars per year. That raises the question of the impact these storms have on household electronic equipment, such as computers, smartphones and tablets, and whether domestic insurance claims might throw some light on the issue.
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Insurance Claims Reveal Hidden Electronic Damage From Geomagnetic Storms

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  • Deductible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Himmy32 ( 650060 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:07AM (#47431365)
    Probably the damages are below the cost of a homeowner/renters deductible. Lot's of difference between making a claim on a $30 microwave and a $20,000 piece of industrial equipment. Even more so the correlation would probably not be a tight as consumers probably would have a much larger standard deviation on time between equipment failure and when the claim was filed.
  • by Brit_in_the_USA ( 936704 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:12AM (#47431417)
    Then look in the sales numbers for replacement appliances and computer pars form bestbuy, newegg etc.
  • by Himmy32 ( 650060 ) on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:13AM (#47431425)
    Not to be pedantic, but people probably would want power conditioners not surge protectors to guard against those conditions. Surge protectors are built to prevent voltage spikes where power conditioners are built to deal with brown-outs and "overvoltage" generally along with spikes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:39AM (#47431623)
    Good statistical analysis should be able to pick this out, particularly if you add geographic data into the mix. This is what computers are good at. One thing that you wouldn't be able to pick out from sales data that I would be interested in seeing is what makes and models are most susceptible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 11, 2014 @11:47AM (#47431691)

    It cant, in fact you can not buy anything on this planet that can stop a close or direct lightning hit.

    I have seen lightning blow up electronics that were unplugged and sitting in the cardboard box. getting a hard strike 8 feet from the south wall where all the gear was going to be installed. Every single device was fried when we opened the boxes and hooked it up.

    Wrong. How do commercial antenna located on towers and other locations that are prime targets for large and small strikes survive at all? The CN Tower in Toronto, Canada has an average of 75 strikes a year []. Any commercial radio station in Florida would be bankrupt if they lost their transmitters after every time their antennas were hit.

    Just because you don't know how to do it [], doesn't make it impossible.

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