Solar Flare Heading for Planet Earth

Tonight, if you’re in an area about 40 degrees latitude or above, you might get quite a show from Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) due to a solar flare that’s heading our way. If it’s large enough you might even see it at lower latitudes.  I was listening to the radio this morning and one scientists they were interviewing told them that he was in Hawaii one time and saw this phenomenon.

This scientists admitted they have no way to figure out what will actually happen from this solar flare.  He likened it to someone coming over to your house unannounced at midnight and you not knowing when they’d leave or what they’d do while they were visiting.

I thought it would be interesting to dig up some things that solar flares have caused in past.

  • During a magnetic storm in 1940 the cables under the Atlantic Ocean received 2,600 volt surges.
  • In August 1972 a a 230,000 volt transformer in British Columbia blew up.
  • March 13, 1989, Quebec gets a blackout courtesy of the Sun. Lasts 11 hours.
  • June 4, 1989, Trans-Siberian gas pipeline blows up. Kills 500 people on 2 trains nearby. Static electricity from solar flare blamed.
  • Solar flares have caused numerous problems for satellites causing insurance companies to pay out billions of dollars in claims.
  • 1997. TV satellite zapped.

They can also disrupt GPS satellites and radio transmissions causing airlines to re-route planes flying over the North Pole. You can see the below image to find out if you’re above 40 degrees latitude in the United States.  If the sky’s clear tonight it might be a good time to hang around outside and see what happens.

It will be interesting to see if we have any problems with satellites, the power grid, pipelines, radio/TV transmissions, etc. From what I read this won’t have any affect on the space station due to its low orbit.


Filed under Space Weather

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