We are once again in one of these cycles which could send massive solar storms our way this year and into next. NASA is tracking the Solar Maximum or Solar Max which is the period of greatest solar activity in the solar cycle of the sun. We’ve already had a few sent our way this year and thankfully no direct hits or major disruptions. Why is this such a big deal you ask? Solar storms of this magnitude can take down our power grid and cause major power outages for an extended period of time. Great, like it can’t get any worse with the whole 2012 thing and all, but think of not having power for days, weeks or maybe more, some experts say as much as 1-4 years. This would obviously be the worst case scenario depending on the size of the flare, but it has happened in the past and it will happen again. Look back to some recent severe weather in the North Eastern United States earlier this year and how long did it take to restore power there? Now imagine that on a global level and it’s downright scary! That’s a lot of resources that would be needed to repair all the equipment damaged not to mention the manpower it would take, and that takes time.
Ok, time for a little history lesson and this will give you an idea of what’s happened in the not so distant past.
- Carrington Super Flare in September 1859, during this the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) could be seen as far south as the Caribbean, imagine that because most of us have never seen them at all. Farther north in the United States it was said to have awakened people who then thought it was morning because it was so bright. It also brought down telegraph systems all over North America and Europe, causing some telegraph operators to be shocked and starting fires. Even after being disconnected from the power supplies some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite being disconnected from a power supply.
- On March 13th 1989, a huge solar storm totally shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing Canada’s Quebec province blacking out most of the province and plunging 6 million people into darkness.
- November 2003, a solar flare temporarily disabled many satellites and the crew of the International Space Station had to take shelter, reporting elevated radiation readings.
- September 2005, a string of solar flares caused disruptions to major power grids and knocked out the GPS system completely for ten minutes. Doesn’t seem bad unless you happened to be in an airplane landing being guided in by a GPS based system.
These are only a few past events that show that solar flares are something that we need to really take serious. I’m not saying it’s the end of the world but it could definitely disrupt our daily lives for a period of time. Everything we do or use in some way revolves around having power. How will I communicate without my cell phone or computer? How will I update my Facebook account or Tweet, trust me the least of our problems. I’d be more concerned with how will I feed my family if the trucks that restock the grocery stores don’t have fuel to make deliveries? How will I cook or refrigerate my food, if I can find any food after the first week of a major outage? Where will I get water to drink if all the water stations are down because the pumps don’t have power? These are all legitimate concerns and you should think about them and make preparations and plans of how you would react to each or all of them.
The only thing we can do as responsible adults is to think ahead and to be prepared. They say we are only 3 days away from anarchy once the grocery stores run out of food. I know that sounds bad but think about it for a moment, most people rely on their local stores for everything, and technology keeps it all running smoothly. If you take away the power then you take away technology and the ability for it all to work seamlessly. So think about maybe making yourself a plan and get prepared for the unthinkable, just in case.
Author: The Survival Guy
- Scientists warn massive solar flare could harm power grid and satellites (slashgear.com)
- ANOTHER REASON TO BE HARDENING INFRASTRUCTURE: Solar storms can destabilize power grids at midlatit… (pjmedia.com)
- Solar storms can cause power grids to fail at lower latitudes (earthsky.org)