The 100th anniversary - solar storm

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From Space Weather:

100 Years Later: The Great Geomagnetic Storm of May 1921
You know a solar storm is serious when buildings burst into flame. Sounds crazy? It really happened 100 years ago today.

On May 15, 1921, the biggest solar storm of the 20th century hit Earth. Around 02:00 GMT that Sunday morning a telegraph exchange in Sweden burst into flames. Across the Atlantic, the same thing was going on in New York. Flames engulfed the switch-board at the Brewster station of the Central New England Railroad and quickly spread to destroy the whole building. During the conflagration, long distance telephone lines burned out in New Brunswick; voltages on telegraph lines in the USA spiked as high as 1000 V; and auroras were sighted by ships at sea crossing the equator. It was a Big. Solar. Storm.

The outburst happened during the lazy tail end of Solar Cycle 15, an unremarkable cycle that was almost over in 1921. Sunspot numbers were low–but it only took one. Giant sunspot AR1842 appeared in mid-May and started flaring, hurling multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs) toward Earth. In those days scientists had never heard of “CMEs,” so they were completely surprised when the clouds of plasma struck Earth. Around the world, magnetometers suddenly went offscale, pens in strip chart recorders pegged uselessly to the tops of their papers.

In response to the pummeling, Earth’s magnetic field swayed back and forth, rippling with energy. Fires were a direct result. Physics 101: When a magnetic field changes rapidly, electricity flows through conductors in the area. It’s called “magnetic induction.” Early 20th century telegraph lines suddenly found themselves buzzing with induced currents. In Sweden and New York, wires grew so hot they ignited telegraph papers and other combustibles.

As a quick heads up.  No.  This is NOT the Solar Storm of 1859 (otherwise known as the Carrington Event).  That was 62 years prior. We have had subsequent storms -  the Great Quebec Blackout of 1989. Power outages happen. What concerns me is that the energy from the solar flare will not only black out the power grid, it will also destroy unprotected electronics. This is why I keep a couple of ham radios in an EMP-proof box as well as some hard currency (can not use an ATM when the grid and net are down).

We are overdue.  We had a very near miss in 2012.  Had it happened nine days earlier (Earth in a different position relative to the Sun), it would have taken four to ten years to recover from the damages. Not a thing we can do to protect ourselves - cars with computers? Dead. Espresso machines with computers? Dead. (sob)

Our *Resident (not him really, he is gone. it's his handlers) talks about infrastructure.
Does anything?

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on May 15, 2021 5:56 PM.

Curious - fractal design was the previous entry in this blog.

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