On March 13th, 1989 a huge solar induced magnetic storm that
played havoc with the ionosphere, and the earth's magnetic field.
This storm, the second largest storm experienced in the past 50
years, totally shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing
Canada's Quebec province.
According to NOAA Space Environment Center solar storm cycle 24 began in 2007 and
should peak in late 2011 or 2012.
The peak of this cycle has been forecasted to be the most intense cycle in fifty years.
These cycles occur every 11 years or so as the Sun reverses its magnetic field, thus
producing a cycle of solar storms marked by solar flares, sunspots and magnetic
storms that can have disruptive effects on Earth.
During an active solar period, violent eruptions occur more often on the sun. Solar
flares and vast explosions, known as coronal mass ejections (CME) or solar
electromagnetic pulse (EMP), shoot energetic photons and highly charged matter
toward Earth, jolting the planet's ionosphere and geomagnetic field, potentially
affecting power grids, critical military and ailine communications, Satellites and Global
Positioning System GPS) signals, and even threatening astronauts with harmful
Solar Cycle Maximum
Solar cycle intensity is measured in maximum number of sunspots—dark blotches on
the sun that mark areas of heightened magnetic activity. The more sunspots there are,
the more likely it is that major solar storms will occur.
The February 2011 solar storm may have been the biggest since 2007, but it was
relatively small in historical terms. It caused some radio communications problems
and minor disruption of civil aviation as airlines routed flights away from the polar
regions, said Dr Lubchenco.
Strong flares are also thought to trigger earthquakes and volcanos. Watch the video
below to find out the possible impact of these strong flares
Solar Storm Maxium
As early as 2006, Dr. M. Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
predicted that, "The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous
one." Dr. Dikpati forecasts a Solar Max will occur in 2012.
And while it probably won't be the biggest peak on record, human society has never
been more vulnerable. The basics of daily life—from communications to weather
forecasting to financial services—depend on satellites and high-tech electronics.
A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences warned that a century-class solar
storm could cause billions in economic damage. They boldly warned that a solar EMP
will short out the electrical power grid, forcing up to 130 million Americans to go without
electricity for months or years.
Solar Storm Classification
Scientists classify solar flares according to their brightness in the x-ray wavelength.
They group flares into 3 categories:
X-CLASS FLARES: Major event with the potential to trigger planet-wide radio blackouts
and long-lasting radiation storms.
M-CLASS FLARES: Medium-sized, generally causing brief radio blackouts affecting
Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare.
C-CLASS FLARES: Compared to X- and M-class events, C-Class flares are small with few
noticeable consequences here on Earth.
Effects of X-Class Solar Flares
A recent study published today in the NewScientist, indicates a direct connection
between the Sun’s solar storms and human biological effect. X-class solar flare can
effect brain activity including balance, behavior, and psycho physiological (mental/
emotional/physical) response. In humans and animals it can cause; nervousness,
anxiety, worry, jitters, irritable, queasiness, and head pressure.
Recent events have many concerned that the changes in the Earth's Magnetic Fields
May Be Causing Bird and Fish Die Off - Could the Earth's magnetic fields be causing the
recent die-off of thousands of birds and fish? Scientists believe so, along with
The sudden death of thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas over the 2010-2011 New
Year's holiday last weekend was newsworthy enough. Within a couple of days,
hundreds of stories from all around the globe recounted similar phenomena.
A X-class solar flares, EMP/CME, potentially could wipe out our nation’s ability to
support critical infrastructures, including supply and distribution of water, food, fuel,
communications, transport, financial transactions, emergency services, government
services, and all other infrastructures supporting the national economy and welfare.
Should significant parts of the electrical power infrastructure be lost for any substantial
period of time, the consequences are likely to be catastrophic, and many people may
ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban
and suburban communities.
Impact of Solar Storms
Loss of Power is the main concern. The time required for full recovery of service
would depend on both the disruption and damage to the electrical power
infrastructure and to other national infrastructures. Some predict it will only be a
matter of hours or days to restore power as seen with the event in Quebec. While
others predict it could years to restore power.
Larger affected areas and stronger EMP field strengths will prolong the time to
recover. Some critical electrical power infrastructure components are no longer
manufactured in the United States, and their acquisition ordinarily requires up to a
year of lead time in routine circumstances. Damage to or loss of these components
could leave significant parts of the electrical infrastructure out of service for periods
measured in months to a year or more.
Most standby power systems would continue to function after a severe solar storm,
but supplying the standby power systems with adequate fuel, when the main power
grids are offline for years, could become a very critical problem.
There is a point in time at which the shortage or exhaustion of sustaining backup
systems, including emergency power supplies, batteries, standby fuel supplies,
communications, and manpower resources that can be mobilized, coordinated, and
dispatched, together lead to a continuing degradation of critical infrastructures for a
prolonged period of time.
How to Prepare
1. Create a Family Disaster Plan
2. Protect Electronics with Faraday Cages
3. Gather Supplies - extra food, water & medicine
4. Learn Survival Techniques
5. Build a Safe Room
What to Expect
Emergency rescue services can be expected to experience an increase in demand.
People trapped on subways and in elevators will require timely rescue. If electric
power is interrupted for any period of time, people at home who depend on oxygen
concentrators, respirators, aspirators, and other life-sustaining equipment that
require electric power will need to find alternative solutions quickly.
Home backup systems, including oxygen tanks, liquid oxygen supplies, batteries and
generator power, will lessen the need for an immediate response for those fortunate
enough to have them, but eventually all these people will need to be transported to
facilities with a reliable power source and appropriate equipment.
When the failure of police and emergency services becomes protracted, the lawless
element of society may emerge. For example, Hurricane Katrina in August 2005
damaged cell phone towers and radio antennas that were crucial to the operation of
Protracted blackout of the power grid caused generators supporting emergency
communications to exhaust their fuel supplies or fail from overuse. Consequently,
government, police, and emergency services were severely impacted in their ability
to communicate with the public and with each other.
Looting, violence, and other criminal activities were serious problems in the
aftermath of Katrina. The ultimate consequences of an increased demand for
emergency services and a concomitant degradation in emergency services
capabilities are measured in lives lost, health impaired, and property damaged.
In the event of a X Class solar event that results in a nation-wide power outage and
social breakdown - you will want to watch these videos of Rudy Reyes, an
Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran, as he demonstrates how you can survive these
Bill Forstchen author of One Second After , "If one day we all find ourselves in the
dark and frightening throes of an EMP, please do not panic. You will be one of a
handful of people able to instantaneously recognize and react to the situation."
•You have stored food, water, all supplies you deemed necessary, and you have
planned ahead for shelter.
•You must go immediately to your meeting place or shelter. Do not linger mesmerized
by the surreal occurrence.
•Do not wait for the power to return. If you are correct, it won't. Eventually, there will
be panic in the streets; your advantage is knowledge and speed of reaction.
•It is also important to carry some cash at all times, and to be willing to use that
money in the event of EMP for anything necessary in the first 24 hours. i.e. a ride in a
car that works, food, water, or even flat shoes if you must now walk. That cash will
shortly become useless.
Bill Forstchen's web site has more information about him and his recommendations
on getting prepared for a major Solar Storm.
Do Not Panic