Solar Storm Paranoia Post

by Ranger Man on January 25, 2012

This is my open response to Jarhead’s How Paranoid Should We Be? post.

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Heeeere it comes …. SOLAR STORM!

Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it, “solar storm”? Sssssay it with me now – ssssssssssolar STORM! That’s awesome. And it is, of course, HAPPENING!

Scope this news vid, scope it now:

As our doomsday prophets have predicted, the electrical grid will soon be destroyed, and society will, of course, collapse. Pandemonium and anarchy will set in. Everyone for themselves. We’re all gonna die!

Now c’mon, do I really think this solar dust up is going to fry the grid like an EMP? No. But just because I’m not that paranoid, doesn’t mean the thought isn’t there. After all, it is the biggest flare up in 6 years, and another solar storm could happen at any moment, another …. Solar SUPERstorm! Oh yeah, I’m talking about the solar storm of 1859, the Carrington Event! Of course, it wasn’t a big deal then, back when we didn’t use electronic banking, when everything from our cars to our phones didn’t contain mini-computers, back when we had FARMS all over the place, not grocery stores carrying food from far away delivered just in time.

You trust National Geographic, yes?

*hint – nod yes*

They asked the question – What if the Biggest Solar Storm on Record Happened Today? In summary – SERIOUS SHTF! I recommend reading the entire article, but if you’re only going to read a clip, read THIS:

“We live in a cyber cocoon enveloping the Earth,” Baker said. “Imagine what the consequences might be.”

Of particular concern are disruptions to global positioning systems (GPS), which have become ubiquitous in cell phones, airplanes, and automobiles, Baker said. A $13 billion business in 2003, the GPS industry is predicted to grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2017.

In addition, Baker said, satellite communications—also essential to many daily activities—would be at risk from solar storms.

“Every time you purchase a gallon of gas with your credit card, that’s a satellite transaction,” he said.

But the big fear is what might happen to the electrical grid, since power surges caused by solar particles could blow out giant transformers. Such transformers can take a long time to replace, especially if hundreds are destroyed at once, said Baker, who is a co-author of a National Research Council report on solar-storm risks.

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s Cliver agrees: “They don’t have a lot of these on the shelf,” he said.

The eastern half of the U.S. is particularly vulnerable, because the power infrastructure is highly interconnected, so failures could easily cascade like chains of dominoes.

“Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month, or a year,” Baker said. “The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.”

This latest solar explosion might not do it, but - it’s only a matter of time.

Should I be better prepared than I am right now? Yes. Does knowing that make me paranoid? A little.

- Ranger Man

RedTeamMedic January 25, 2012

FINALLY someone acknowledges the threat…yes, yes, the NYSE has giant professionally built Faraday cages around their on-site servers, but I assume they were designed to counter two-legged, briefcase-bound threats…not SUPER solar storms. The Sun produces about 3 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) PER day; it is only a matter of time for a large enough enough CME to be directed towards Earth. No power for a month will be enough to cause widespread pandemonium…and if the EMP is giant like my boys at NatGeo said, then we are talking ESHTF (the E is for elephant).

Thank you for posting this and getting the word out. In our modern society, technology has become both our greatest asset, and a dangerous liability.

RangerMan, brew some coffee, I’ll bring the shovels…where we digging the bunker?

Out.

Spook45 January 25, 2012

This is actually a legitate issue. N te late 1800s there was an X-Class event(aka Carington event) that occured and set telegraph wire ablaze all across the country. While much of our infrastructure that wold be effected by this is underground and EMP hardened, the parts that are exposed could suffer grea damage and thus make mute the parts that are protected. Yesterdays event was classified as an S9 , one step shy of an xclass event. Had the event reached the level of X2 or X3, we would likely be having this conversation via MORSE CODE over the airways rather than on the web.

Calamity Jane January 25, 2012

:-P I wore my good walking shoes today and packed a little bit of extra food…. Just in case.

Spook45 January 25, 2012

Correction, that is an M9 classification not s. You can read all about these types of events as well as track them and see other intereting space and geo-spacial events on Spaceweather.com. They do a very good job of explaining wan tracking all of the events in our system that either visible or a threat to us. From time to time there are very interesting things here like comets and astroids and solar events and they get pics from observatorys all over the world. Good site.

Jarhead Survivor January 25, 2012

I loved the Northern Lights in that video. Back in the 80′s I went to Norway as part of a big training exercise and we went well above the arctic circle. The aurora borealis was the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen. I was on guard duty after midnight and actually wound up taking the next two hour shift just so I could watch them. (The guy I was supposed to wake up to take over guard loved it too.)

As far as frying the grid? Don’t be paranoid, man.

Ha!

irishdutchuncle January 25, 2012

all the lights here (and simultaneously, some a few miles away) did flicker for a moment yesterday, while my wife was on the phone with her mother. it almost shut off the TV and computer. must have been something big…

Jason January 25, 2012

Come on, confess – it was you at the fuse panel disrupting the phone call with mom-in-law!

irishdutchuncle January 26, 2012

i was sitting right here the whole time…

that would be a neat trick to be in her basement, and my apartment at the same time. i made out ok in the in-law department, anyhow. no horror stories here. still happy to be married to their daughter.

Prepared N.D. January 25, 2012

I 2nd Spook’s recommendation of Spaceweather.com, it’s a very good resource. For those of you who aren’t paranoid of social media, Spaceweather.com is actually on Facebook.

Here are a couple excerpts from their Facebook activity:

—————
NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center
The strongest Solar Radiation Storm since September, 2005 is in progress and continues to get stronger and a very fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is headed towards Earth. Geomagnetic storming is a near certainty from this event, but pending preliminary analysis, no estimates are available yet for timing or strength of the storm. The associated solar flare peaked at the R2 (Moderate) level on January 23 at 0400 GMT (11pm Jan 22 EST). Radiation storms are a concern for astronauts, for communications at high latitudes, for satellites in space and for many rockets being launched. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can follow the radiation storm at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/rt_plots/pro_3d.html So long as the red trace is above the dashed line, we are at alert levels. The attached photo shows the event still rising at this time.
Monday at 1:06AM

NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center
The model guidance is back and it shows the coronal mass ejection arriving Tuesday at 9am EST (1400 GMT). The ‘bump’ on Jan 24 in the green traces is the coronal mass ejection arriving at Earth. The radiation storm is continuing. A correction is needed on the previous post, it is the strongest storm since December, 2006.
Monday at 2:32AM
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And sure enough, their prediction was pretty accurate. The flare hit ACE at 1433GMT and they posted about it on Facebook at 1444GMT.

Even if you don’t trust Facebook, you can still make an anonymous account and use it as a news reader. I have the nationals, special interests such as the weather service and space weather, our local ema’s and law enforcement, and local news. It’s nice having everything right there in one place in real time.

Jason January 25, 2012

Due to the solar flare, my sun dial lost 5 minutes yesterday …

izzy January 29, 2012

Someone help me out here, I’ve been trying to find this out – They say that an EMP or a solar flare could “disrupt” things. What exactly do they mean? For example:

1. If an electronic device is on when an EMP/flare happens, would it be just disabled during the occurrence, or would it be permanently nonfunctional afterwards?

2. If an electronic device is turned off when an EMP/flare happens, would it be permanently nonfunctional afterwards?

3. If an electronic device is unplugged when an EMP/flare happens, would it be permanently nonfunctional afterwards?

Thanks – izzy

Anonymous January 29, 2012

Answers to 1, 2, 3 – Yes

Ranger Man January 29, 2012

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