In case you didn’t catch it on the news, there’s a solar flare headed towards Earth that will hit tonight and tomorrow. Now, technically, a solar flare spawned a coronal mass ejection that’s headed towards Earth, but “solar flare” is a much more recognized phrase than “coronal mass ejection.” I’m going to tell you what’s going on with it quickly, and then tell you why it’s important.
It isn’t a big one, even though the erruption on the sun happened across 400,000 km. That’s 30 times the diameter of the Earth! Fortunately, it doesn’t have much “oomph” behind it and probably won’t affect much on Earth. If it does cause any disruptions, they will be in satellite equipment.
Here’s what NASA had to say about it:
“On August 1st around 0855 UT, (DM note–UT is Universal time, which is the same as GMT. So, 0855 UT is the same as 3:55 AM Eastern. I’m not sure why people blindly report this “0855 UT” without spending the 10 seconds that it takes to explain “UT” but it seems like a sign that they’re not willing to do the simplist of research.) Earth orbiting satellites detected a C3-class solar flare. The origin of the blast was Earth-facing sunspot 1092. C-class solar flares are small (when compared to X and M-class flares [DM note -- which are much larger] ) and usually have few noticeable consequences here on Earth besides aurorae. This one has spawned a coronal mass ejection heading in Earth’s direction.http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/sunearthsystem/main/News080210-cme.html <<
Coronal mass ejections (or CMEs) are large clouds of charged particles that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours and can carry up to ten billion tons of plasma. They expand away from the Sun at speeds as high as a million miles an hour. A CME can make the 93-million-mile journey to Earth in just three to four days.
When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, it interacts with our planet’s magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm. Solar particles stream down the field lines toward Earth’s poles and collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, resulting in spectacular auroral displays. On the evening of August 3rd/4th, skywatchers in the northern U.S. and other countries should look toward the north for the rippling dancing “curtains” of green and red light.
The Sun goes through a regular activity cycle about 11 years long. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001 and its recent extreme solar minimum was particularly weak and long lasting. These kinds of eruptions are one of the first signs that the Sun is waking up and heading toward another solar maximum expected in the 2013 time frame.” >>
Here’s why this is a big deal.
If you’ve noticed, I frequently talk about solar flares being an event that has the ability to cause widespread disruptions in the grid, the supply chain, and in civil order. Unlike EMPs that dispense their energy for a few seconds over a limited area, a large solar flare would be like a series of EMPs going off for hours or even days over most or all of the Earth. The result would be that electronics that aren’t shielded, and even some that are improperly shielded, would get fried.
In the event of an EMP or a class M (and possibly X) solar flare, we would lose our electrical grid, electronics including vehicles and advanced medical devices, refrigeration, and pumps for fuel, water, and sewage.
Is this something to fear? No. That won’t do ANY good. But it is an event that should stress the importance of getting prepared for breakdowns in the grid, social services, and civil order…NOW.
It IS something that you can use to bring up preparedness with friends and loved ones. Today and tonight as you start hearing about the Northern Lights being “spectacular”, take the opportunity to mention that this event is tiny and that when a bigger solar flare happens, it will mean “lights out” and it might be a good time to start buying additional food, water, and other survival supplies to hold you over in case ANY disaster happens.
What about you? Do this week’s solar events bring things closer to home for you? How will it affect your preparations? How do you plan on using these events to talk with friends and loved ones? Let me know by commenting below.
Stay Safe, & God Bless,
P.S. So, if you’ve got your supplies…your food, water, bullets, and butter…that’s great. When you do, it’s time to address operational security, disaster/survival psychology, building your mutual aid team, improvised medicine, field expedient ways to up-armor your house, making your house and your family NOT look like a good target, and many of the other important strategies and tactics covered in the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course.