How Long Will an EMP Disaster Last?


An EMP can be created through everyday items, or it can even be produced through a reaction via a nuclear explosion or even produced via the sun and each EMP can be placed into Phases: E1, E2 and E3.

An EMP is a threat to our modern way of life. Why? Because everything we rely on, like hospitals, internet and transport, to name a few items, rely on electronic components to operate.

It will happen in a flash, you might know it is coming, but you will not have time to prepare for the event, that’s why you need to prepare if you have not already. Store all your electronics in a Faraday Cage and shield your larger electronics, like your vehicle and your solar panels.

Society will fall when an EMP event happens and the unprepared have started to go panic, their only thoughts will be to hoard supplies, communicate with loved ones and survive.

In the meantime, what we preppers will do is watch and wait for the chaos to die down, while reading a book via a lamp powered by our protected solar panel array and power storage units.

The important thing to remember about an Electromagnetic Pulse is that it disables the electronic components, which are usually destroyed, leaving that device useless, and in need of replacement parts before it can run again

This includes wires as they absorb the pulse charge, the longer the wire the more damage it creates to the electronic device and its components.

So today we will be looking at the question: How long does an EMP last for?

An EMP blast can last up to a minute if it’s of solar origin (CME). If it’s from a nuclear blast, then it has to go through all three E Phases, if it was a CME then anything up to a minute as a CME is always an E3. Normal life, however, would get back to normal after months or even years.

A modern vehicle might take a day, maybe more if the wiring is usable, whereas a power plant may take years to get back online.

If the sun did via a CME then minutes as it releases an E3, it can last a long time as the CME might keep bombarding the Earth for days or more adding to the first pulse.

If it was nuclear-born then the pulse can last minutes as it goes through all three E Phases, but, depending on how high above the ground it was detonated, the radius changes and we learned that with a nuclear pulse comes more problems.

The fallout of either pulse lasts anything up to years after, depending on what has been affected and what is needed to replace the components.

Nuclear Explosion vs The Sun

Both the sun and a nuclear missile can create an EMP. Both have different E Phases.

A nuclear-born EMP can have a varied range, but also comes with a high dose of nuclear radiation. The lasting effects are the repair time for electronics and the radiation in and around ground zero for the given radius

At 300 miles above a country, the radius is greatly widened. If an EMP is detonated 300 miles above the U.S., the radius could hit Washington D.C when detonated above the centre, or close to the centre of the country.

This is also followed by E Phases: E1 the initial explosion and mushroom cloud releases a pulse lasting seconds, E2 is the particles falling to the ground, the EMP here lasts seconds and E3 distorts the Earth’s magnetic field and also lasts seconds. However, the after-effects can last years.

The sun can release a Coronal Mass Ejection or what others might call a Geomagnetic Storm, depending on the severity it lasts just as long as a Nuclear EMP and has a wider range. In 1859 (Solar Cycle 10) the sun released a CME, it was recorded to be the biggest CME to date. It was named the Carrington Event. A CME can last weeks and each CME can have different ranges of time. The Sun delivers E3.

Both the sun and a nuclear missile are a problem, if a nuke is the source then radiation follows it, if the sun was the source then the bombardment of CME can last weeks.

EMP Phases And Their Pulse Durations

When a nuclear EMP is created we begin at Phase E1. This is a short phase but an intense burst. This is the part that delivers the high voltage pulse and last one to five nanosecond(s)

Phase E2 is the scattered gamma particles. We can also equate the E2 to lightning in terms of EMP production. This is the easiest to protect against. This lasts anything up to one second

Phase E3 is different to the previous phases. This is a very slow pulse lasting anything up to hundreds of seconds. This is the one that can destroy power lines and shut down power plants as a result, because we use AC current they conflict with the pulse that is a DC current. Both a nuclear EMP and the sun produce an E3

A Solar EMP does not produce Phases E1 and E2 when at ground level.

The CME will hit Earth anywhere from 15-18 hours for fast pulses or last several days if they are slow pulses. Each CME lasts several hours. Each CME can last weeks, depending on the cycle and over a day the sun can produce up to 3 CMEs a day.

So The Sun could bombard the earth with CMEs for at least a week. This means that anything not shielded from an E3 EMP will not be fixable as long as the pulses keep hitting the Earth. An CME can last as long as the sun is capable of producing the pulse during the event. As long as a continuous pulse is active there will never be any electronics as the pulse will stop any repairs to the electronics. This is also true for man-made EMPs.

When the sun creates an CME things get worse. The sun is always giving off small amounts of electromagnetic waves – that’s how we see the “The Northern Lights”.

However if the sun was to bombard the Earth’s magnetosphere with CME pulses, all we can do is move fast to shield our electronics before 18 hours are up. Why?

It can take 18 hours to 3 days for the pulse to reach Earth when a warning goes out. A CME within the sun’s corona can last up to four weeks.

While a nuclear-born EMP can keep happening as long as there are missiles to launch, that’s not to mention the radiation.

After a nuclear explosion and resulting “mushroom cloud” we also experience the results of a nuclear-born EMP, it lasts anything up to minutes, but once over there is nothing to fear from that pulse, just the radiation.

Now that we understand the different electromagnetic pulses, we should look more at the aftermath as this is also covered in the duration.

The aftermath will last as long as years, perhaps decades, depending on what was damaged by the pulse, years and decades being especially true for power plants and modern conveniences that have lots of circuits and wires, perhaps we will never recover

As long as you prepared a suitable Faraday cage and shielded electronics that are also important then you have nothing to fear from a nuclear-born EMP of any Phase, including an E2 lightning strike.

That being said, the aftermath will last years because the damage has to be assessed, working parts found and the electronics fixed.

It could take three to ten years to fix a power plant, depending on if they have working parts close by. If not then some very smart humans will have to print and build hundreds of circuit boards en masse to fill the orders.

No matter the EMP, we still need the parts to replace the damaged circuits and new wires to replace the charged ones, so those smart and skilled humans will be in demand and possibly very rich.

Just reading the research makes me want to look into shielding my everyday vehicle just to be sure.

What is Affected by an EMP, And What isn’t?

Everything with circuits and wires is affected. On a circuit board, the components melt from the high voltage pulse passing through it via any attached wires. The longer the wires, the greater the voltage pulse passing through it.

You can shield the electronics using a Faraday cage or shielding the electronics and wires in vehicles. More on that in another article.

If you can properly store circuit boards that will be in high demand after an EMP then you should survive, though, there are pros and cons to this.

A lot of vehicles are not affected by an EMP. These don’t have computers and circuits governing everything for the vehicle.

If you can find a vehicle made around the 1980s, those should not have computers governing the systems and thus be able to survive an EMP.

Though I’d just shield my bug-out vehicle, it might cost more to do, but a modern vehicle has advantages that older models don’t have.

Some electronic locks can unlock when hit with an EMP, however, this depends on what the lock is attached to. Many locks now are EMP proof, especially ones attached to safes that will protect valuables.

The small amount of gold in the fried electronic components, the precious metals in a vehicle’s catalytic converter and the re-forgeable metals of modern conveniences that can be reforged into weapons and tools.

Communications and Returning to Normal

Communication being re-established depends on you, those who prepared and the lucky.

If you stored communications devices properly and you have power then you already have communication of the electronic kind. If you have pen and paper you can send someone a message via a rider.

Government-run communications should change to emergency broadcasts and will run either a recorded message, coded communications or live broadcasts that will give some kind of update or instructions.

For full communications it will take months or years, depending on the damage and the duration of an EMP event, it could take years to get back online or it might never get back online.

It depends on how long one new circuit board takes to be manufactured by hand to repair factories to mass-produce circuit boards, however, there should be places that store circuit boards and protect them from EMPs.

Returning to normal will take a long time. Our normal is full of electronics we depend on to live, we use mobile phones, cars, the internet, computers and even medical equipment.

What will most likely happen is communications will come back online, and that will be radios and specialized military and government communications.

Next would be the production of circuit boards to repair factory equipment.

Those replacement circuit boards will most likely be done by hand and will take a long time to hand manufacturer, it could take someone a day to build just one circuit board as they have to hand draw the layout and hand-drill holes.

Final Thoughts and What You Can Do

Shielding your bug-out vehicles works and ensuring any electronic prepping supplies are in a Faraday cage. Also storing spare electronic components is a good idea.

Any solar panels will require shielding and a protection EMP shield to keep them safe. Sol-Ark is one company I found that has various EMP protection for its products.

You can build a Faraday cage out of metal wires, then ensure the cage is grounded and so on. That’s not something I will be covering here, maybe in another article.

This is why we prepare, a CME is more likely than a nuclear EMP

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