A report analyzing North America’s vulnerability to the effects of a powerful solar storm warned that the entire region could experience severe power outages that can last for up to two years. The report indicated that this event could be triggered by a solar storm as powerful as the one that hit the planet in 1859.

Dubbed as the Carrington Event, the solar storm that battered Earth on Sept. 1, 1859, became known as one of the largest geomagnetic phenomena ever recorded. According to experts, if the same type of solar storm hit Earth today, the effects would be more devastating simply because of the current technological state.

A previous report made by U.K.-based insurance firm Lloyd’s analyzed what would happen to North America if a storm as powerful as the one that caused the Carrington Event suddenly hit Earth.

According to the report, the severe space weather would immediately paralyze the region’s electric grid, which would lead to wide-scale power outages. Authors of the report indicated that about 20 to 40 million people in the U.S. would be affected by the event.

The report then warned that the blackouts could last for up to two years due to the destruction caused by the solar storm. Since the highly-charged particles carried by solar storms can cause transformers overload and blow out, electric facilities would require replacements for their equipment.

Depending on the availability of replacement parts, it could take at least five months before new transformers to arrive.

“The total U.S. population at risk of extended power outage from a Carrington-level storm is between 20-40 million, with durations of 16 days to 1-2 years,” the authors of the report stated. “The duration of outages will depend largely on the availability of spare replacement transformers.”

“If new transformers need to be ordered, the lead-time is likely to be a minimum of five months,” they continued.

Aside from lack of electricity, residents might also lose other basic necessities such as clean water since treatment facilities could also be affected by the aftermath of a solar storm. According to the report, the entire cost of the damage caused by a powerful solar strike on Earth could be about $0.6 to $2.6 trillion.

This photograph of the sun, taken Dec. 19, 1973, during the third and final manned Skylab mission (Skylab 4), shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded, spanning more than 588,000 kilometers (365,000 miles) across the solar surface. NASA