Only a few days after my post on How an EMP Disaster would Endanger Our Lives, our region experienced a strong electrical storm. A bolt of lightning struck very near to my house, causing a host of problems. All the landline phones were burned out by a surge of electricity; they had to be thrown away and replaced. The cable TV/internet modem and router was also fried, along with the “surge protector” that was supposed to protect the device. And my desktop computer was totaled by the surge and had to be replaced. I could still get my data off of the hard drive, thankfully.
Now all that damage was done by a single bolt of lightning, which did not even strike our house, just nearby. So how much worse would an EMP disaster be? Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on EMP lists lightning as one cause of (very low level) electromagnetic pulse.
We can’t be entirely certain as to the effects of an EMP (electromagnetic pulse). The last time a nuclear bomb was exploded high enough in the atmosphere to cause EMP was the 1962 cold war nuclear test called Starfish Prime. But nuclear weapons today are much more powerful, and ICBMs can place them high over any nation or region for maximum EMP effect. We can reasonably conclude that an EMP would be more devastating than in the case of past test explosions.
Electronics today are also more fragile than in the past. Computer chips are printed with ever narrower pathways for electricity, down to the level of several nanometers in width. The thinner the wire, the more easily it can be burned out by a surge of electricity. So it is possible, though not known for certain, that an EMP could take out all devices using computer chips — which is almost every electrical device made in recent years. Even your toaster has a computer chip of sorts in it.
EMP is one of the most underrated possible disasters faced by preppers and survivalists.