What Would Happen if an EMP Attack were Made on America?

While many people are aware of EMP attacks, far fewer people actually understand what an EMP attack is, how it works, or how it would affect the country. AN EMP attack would, without question, be one of the very worst things that could happen to the United States. If you’ve ever heard of the idea that an EMP attack could throw America back to the 1800s, it is actually very possible that it would.

Some Facts about EMP

What is an EMP? 

EMP stands for “electromagnetic pulse, ” and it’s basically a very powerful and intense pulse of electromagnetic radiation. If this pulse is powerful enough, it can fry the wiring in circuitry, and in a strong enough magnetic field, electronics can be completely destroyed by the burst. Now, this doesn’t mean that those electronic devices are going to explode or anything. But it does mean that the electrical components are going to get fried, and will quit working. It is important to note that an EMP is not going to be dangerous to animals, plants, or people (unless you’re wearing something like a pacemaker or are in a moving vehicle or plane), so you shouldn’t need to fear for your physical health when the blast goes off.

How Can an Electromagnetic Pulse be Created? 

One way is through detonating a nuclear weapon high in the atmosphere. The energy created by that blast could create an electromagnetic pulse that would then be sent out in all directions. There are also different kinds of electromagnetic pulses as well: El, E2, and E3. An El pulse is the most powerful and intense. It creates microwaves as it passes through the earth’s magnetic field, and would most certainly cause voltage convulsions in electrical conductors as well. This is the type of electromagnetic pulse that would fry computers and similar electronic equipment, as well as key electronics in cars, trucks, and aircraft. The E2 pulse is similar to lightning strikes, and is far less powerful than an El pulse. Finally, the E3 pulse is even less powerful than the E2, and is comparable to solar flares created by the sun. While E3s are still powerful enough to damage power lines and other infrastructure, they’re still not nearly as powerful as Els.

What is Going to be Taken Out by an EMP Attack? 

The answer to this question depends on a number of different factors: the type of electromagnetic pulse, how high in the atmosphere it’s detonated (the higher the device is detonated, the wider the range it’s going to affect), and whether or not electronic devices are shielded. Virtually any device that is not shielded or protected against an E 1 electromagnetic pulse is likely to be either completely fried or at least severely damaged.

These include, but are not necessarily limited to:

1) the power grid; 2) laptops; 3) tablets; 4) cellphones; 5) cell services towers; 6) internet routers; 7) electronic gun safes; 8) TVs; 9) radios; 10) refrigerators and freezers; 11) thermostats; 12) electronic banking (i.e., all credit and debit cards and ATMs); 13) the computerized components of vehicles ( cars, planes, ATVs, motorcycles, UTVs, etc.); 14) pacemakers; 15) hospital diagnostic machines; 16) anything with a microchip. All of the above items are going to be extremely vulnerable to an EMP. Phones and laptops that are being housed in a metal building or sealed metal container might be able to survive an El, but it’s not at all guaranteed.

What Will an EMP Attack Look Like in the Us? 

What you need to do is imagine a world where each of the items listed above are taken out instantly, because that is exactly what an EMP attack is going to do. For instance, cars are going to quit working instantly, at least cars that were built since 1980. Planes will fall out of the sky. Phones and laptops will be fried, and even if they aren’t, they won’t do you much good without cell service or the Internet. In essence, America will be thrown back to the Stone Age as hundreds of millions of people across the country find themselves in a world without power. Looting and rioting would be almost certain to develop in the hours and days following the attack across most of the major cities in America. Due to the lack of working electronic equipment, military and law enforcement would be enormously slow to respond.

What’s worse is that such a scenario could potentially last for years. It would take years, if not a full decade, for the power grid to get back up and running the way it was before, during which time up to 90% of Americans could be killed by starvation, rioting, disease, dehydration, murder, and suicide. In essence, if there’s one thing that an EMP attack would create in the United States it would be chaos, misery, and death.

Trump Plans to Study the Risks of an EMP Attack

President Trump has just signed an executive order to study the risks of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on the US. Experts have determined that a successful attack doesn’t even require a Super-EMP weapon. The Commission that studied the implications of an EMP for 15 years concluded that even a primitive weapon could successfully render our infrastructure obsolete. Several declassified 2017 reports from the Commission that were released earlier this year revealed that Russia, China, and several other nations had been developing powerful high-altitude nuclear bombs intended to produce super-electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves capable of knocking out critical electronic infrastructure. The Commission and outside experts have also claimed that North Korea has the capability to carry out an EMP attack on the US. And during the unpleasantness with the US back in 2017, Kim Jong Un even reportedly threatened to carry out such an attack.

Here’s what the report said about the threat posed by EMPs: “Nuclear EMP attack is part of the military doctrines, plans, and exercises of Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran for a revolutionary new way of warfare against military forces and civilian critical infrastructures by cyber-sabotage. The Commission sees the high-altitude nuclear explosion-generated electromagnetic pulse as an existential threat to the survival of the United States and its allies that can be exploited by major nuclear powers and small-scale nuclear weapon powers, including North Korea and non-state actors such as nuclear armed terrorists. “

Newt Gingrich once said that an EMP would “destroy the country’s ability to function.” If an atomic weapon were to be detonated high up in the air, the resulting explosion would not be powerful enough to kill people on the ground (at least, not in large numbers). But the electromagnetic interference would be powerful enough to shut down electronic grids.

EMP attacks do not require accuracy, nor do the bombs require a re-entry vehicle, heat shield, or shock absorbers like standard nuclear weapons, and they can be delivered through several methods—including satellites; short-, medium-, or long-range missiles; or even from a jet, commercial airliner, or meteorological balloon. The worst forecasts suggest that up to 90% of Americans could die in the aftermath of an EMP attack, after the bulk of the country’s electric grid fails, leaving essential services in the dark. Hospitals would soon shut down, clean water would run out, and millions of Americans would quickly run out of food.

What to Expect after an EMP Attack and What to Do

Living without Electricity

An event that is currently causing a growing apprehension among knowledgeable electronics experts is the danger of losing the entire electrical power grid and anything that requires electrical circuitry to operate. If all this was lost, it would send us back 200 years to how things were at the start of the 19th century. The thought of living without electricity might not seem too scary at first, especially when you start to consider that our ancestors coped perfectly fine without it. But our ancestors didn’t live in a society that was wholly reliant upon electricity for their needs as we are today.

It is highly probable that survivors would eventually transition, but the chances are that a huge percent of the US population would perish during that transition time. Some experts put that figure as high as 90%!

Trump Wants a Plan of Action in Case of an EMP Attack

There has been much talk recently of how vulnerable the United States is to an EMP attack and why Trump has recently signed an executive order directing the federal government to put together a coherent plan of action in the event the US is targeted with a strategic EMP attack. The order highlights the failings and weaknesses of our Electrical Grid and all existing action plans. It also highlights the potential, but very real, threat of an EMP weapon being used against the US by rogue nations or terrorist organizations.

The US government has enacted this executive order based upon risk assessments provided by prominent EMP experts that highlight the dangers to the US should a strategic EMP weapon ever be used against us. The US electrical grid urgently needs strengthening.

Life and Death in a Post-EMP America

Nobody knows for certain how dark the United States would go after an EMP attack takes out the electrical grid. In the worst-case scenario, there would be no electric power and every piece of electrical equipment would have its circuitry fried, rendering it useless—including all modern vehicles. Now for the frightening part! Within seconds of an EMP event occurring, the fatalities would very quickly start to mount up. Stalled passenger planes falling out of the skies, thousands killed in automobile accidents, life support and lifesaving equipment suddenly stopping—the list goes on and on.

On the ground, any problems would initially be manageable. Most homes would only have enough food and water to last them a few days. However, all water utilities would stop immediately, as there would be no power to operate pumping stations or treatment plants. Solar power will be rendered useless as the solar panels will be damaged by the EMP. Shops and stores would quickly empty as daily food deliveries stop. There would be no communication networks available, as landlines, cells, TV and radio stations, and Internet all stop working. It wouldn’t be too long before violent mobs and looters started to take advantage of the situation, initially targeting shops and warehouses, then moving onto domestic housing soon after.

There will be no police; there will be no Nation al Guard; there will be no law and order. If you have had the good wisdom to prepare, you will have put together a good supply of water, food, and guns with plenty of ammunition—enough to see you through a couple of weeks, or even a month of crisis. However, as sensible as these preparations may sound, in a city full of thirsty and starving inhabitants, it won’t be long before you are targeted and it will not matter how many guns you have, they still won’t be enough to stop the hundreds or thousands of people willing to kill you to take what you have. Consider Caracas, Venezuela at present in this respect.

Preparation is Key

That doesn’t mean that making preparations is a waste of time. Preparation is still the key to surviving these types of Doomsday events, but the most important piece of survival advice you need to follow, especially if you live in a city or any other large urban environment. is to leave for a rural area. Head quickly for the relative safety of the countryside, woods, or mountains, preferably as part of a group of well-armed, likeminded individuals.

If you stay in the city, your chances of survival will be extremely slim. Cities are not designed to be self-sufficient. They will quickly run out of water and food, descending just as quickly into lawless no go zones. There will be no sanitation and no waste disposal, rotting corpses will start piling up all over the place, sickness and disease will be everywhere, and eventually, without medicine or treatment of any kind, epidemics will wipe out masses of people. Again, for a pretty accurate picture of what this will look like. observe the chaos that is presently happening in Caracas, Venezuela.

Over time, people who stay in large towns and cities will die—some sooner than others, but the majority will die. Probably the 83% of the population of the United States that live in urban environments will account for the vast majority of fatalities. The threat of an EMP event causing catastrophic damage to our society and our way of life is very real. There is only one way to survive in the aftermath of such an event, and that is to have all your preps in order and to move as far away as possible from large populations.

Other Preparations that Could Be Made in Advance of an EMP Event

Survival in the country, a small town or more rural setting, or on a farm will obviously be much easier. You will need to take action to stock up on supplies, establish close alliances with people in your area for bartering and mutual protection, and to build Faraday cages (i.e., similar to the old bread boxes, or even a metal garbage can with a tightly sealed top) to shield electronic items (including watches) from the effects of EMP A world-band shortwave radio and hand-held CB radios (if protected) may be your only means of communication with the outside world since the Internet, all phones and other communications will be down.

Besides the obvious: food, water, firearms and ammunition, camping and backpacking equipment, and first aid supplies, there should be enough bicycles for each member of the family. All cars and trucks will stop because their electronics are melted, so bicycles would be very useful.


Is an EMP attack against America technologically feasible? Absolutely! Do we have enemies who hate us enough and would like to destroy us? Absolutely! Do they have the technical ability to launch such an attack? Absolutely! Would an EMP attack be a way to conquer America and unleash unimaginable pain and chaos, but leave its infrastructure intact for some future rulers—the globalist (New World) government, Chinese, Russians, UN, or maybe just the communists who are actively trying to take over at this time?

Preparing for an EMP attack is something that the United States government should be doing, but our present reality is that we are woefully underprepared. However, as individuals, we should also be prepared. An EMP would change your world as you know it, and literally transform your city into a war zone. The supply trucks would stop, the grocery stores would become looted, and raiders would prowl the streets.

Most people (the great majority we all know) would never consider the possibility of an EMP attack, and would ridicule (scoff at) the possibility (or warnings) of such a scenario—such as this article—as negative gloom and doom fear-mongering. If it should happen, these people will be totally unprepared, and many of them will die in the ugly aftermath. But government electronics experts this writer has talked with in recent years believe such an event is very possible and that America is dangerously totally unprepared for it. It might be useful to study the current lifestyle of the Amish people in Iowa and other Midwestern states. They live with no electricity or electronic devices. They will do well in a post-EMP environment.

Post Script: Irony! 

As this writer was sitting in a large shopping center in the Philippines on April 12, rereading this article prior to publication, suddenly there was a total power failure—everything went pitch black. Escalators and elevators suddenly stopped, all water in bathrooms stopped, toilets would not flush, all electronics stopped, Internet access abruptly stopped, and only flashlights on cell phones gave us some light. The blackout lasted several hours, during which time we made it to an exit and into the daylight. It was a timely and eerie reminder of what would happen in an EMP event—except that a nationwide event would be 100 times worse.

This essay is an excerpt from the original edition of the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, circular newsletter dated May 2019. 

© 2019 Used by Permission

Nordskog Publishing (NPI) provides articles and essays by select guest authors which we believe have much to offer the Christian community—to motivate Biblical thinking and action. We believe in the market place of ideas within the context of God’s Word. However, we may disagree at points.  Publishing an article does not mean absolute agreement. Therefore, please understand that opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NPI, nor of its editorial staff.

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5 Responses to What Would Happen if an EMP Attack were Made on America?

  1. Kathy hummel September 15, 2019 at 7:42 pm #

    I agree with every thing stock piling food in cans lots of water but one problem we live in the desert queen Creek as all 62 and older this is a bad thing to happen with no means to leave but this is going to happen by full blowen war or EMP this is so real

  2. Rob February 1, 2020 at 12:28 am #

    Tuna is cheap and is dated for yrs out and if you have a well make sure you have a hand pump added not just electric. No power no water without it also Noodles keep forever and also cheap. Bottled water you should always have 50 bottles per person stocked. Beef jerky first aid kit matches propane grill would be a plus keep a few tanks also if you are in an area that fruit trees would grow cheap to plant

  3. Shirl August 17, 2020 at 3:44 am #

    Will emp penetrate plaster walls wood floors concrete or brick?

  4. Larry Tessari June 1, 2021 at 1:26 am #

    In addition to enemies, the sun is capable of doing something similar. The Carrington event could happen again. I read that just recently, a large solar flare crossed earth’s orbit by less distance than the earth travels in 2 days

  5. William C. Crane November 18, 2021 at 2:23 am #

    I was in the Navy in 69 -73 and we had a discussion and nothing positive came from our discussion!!!

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