Survival-Pax Blog: Solar Flares Are Still Around

Monday, May 13, 2013

Solar Flares Are Still Around

An interesting thing happened to me this morning. I overslept. I set my alarm last night on my cell phone to wake me up this morning, but it never went off. I woke up, realizing that I slept about half an hour longer than I wanted to. Still sleepy and confused, I didn't remember the alarm going off.

I took a look at the time on my phone and saw that it was set about 2 hours ahead of the current time and the date was 5/1/1982. It's funny because the first thing that popped into my mind was that a Solar Flare hit the cell networks and messed with the signals, I kid you not. I quickly dismissed this as unlikely until I found out what had actually happened.

My wife's phone, however, had the correct time. I think the clock on my cell phone got changed because I have it set to change automatically.
A view of the solar flare released on May 12, 2013.
source: news.yahoo.com

When I turned on the computer this morning to check the news, I came across this article and I knew why my cell phone time was off. For those unaware, a solar flare was emitted last night, from the side of the sun not facing the Earth. Even though the flare did not directly impact the earth, it created an hour-long high-frequency radio blackout, which could have been the cause of my cell phone problems.

I was actually quite shocked, because the time that this happened, 10:17 pm EDT, accounts for why my clock was off by about 2 hours. The time signal from the cell tower must have scrambled because of the flare and it had reset to 12:00 am, May 1, 1982.

Solar Flares

I wrote a previous blog post in June 2011 about solar flares called "Solar Flare Misses Earth". I would recommend taking a moment to read it.

In 1859, the largest recorded solar flare hit the earth. This was called the Carrington Event. In 1859, the world wasn't very developed in terms of electrical power grids and communication networks, but the telegraph networks that were up and running were pretty much fried. Telegraph systems across the world failed, and in a few instances, shocked telegraph operators. Some telegraphs even sent and received messages despite being disconnected from a power supply!

On a positive note, beautiful Aurorae (plural for Aurora) were visible all over the world, even as far south as the Caribbean. It was said that the light emitted was brighter than a full moon. So bright, that miners in the Rocky Mountains began making breakfast because they thought the sun was about to come up.

A view of the Aurora Borealis from space. Now imagine seeing this across the whole globe.
Thankfully, events of this magnitude only hit the earth about once every 500 years. Still, the flare that was emitted last night was an X1.7-class sun eruption, which is the strongest type of solar flare. Had it been directed towards the earth, waking up late may have been the least of my worries. I am not sure if it would have been as massive as the Carrington Event, but it's very possible that many communication networks and even power grids may have been damaged.

How to prepare?

As in my last blog post about solar flares, an absolute worst-case flare-induced event would be a wipe-out of most of the power grid and communication networks in the world. It would be an instant return to the 19th Century, and it's something that the majority of us are not prepared for.

To try to prepare for a situation like this, I would recommend taking a moment and imagining that from this point forward, for the near future (possibly several years), you will have no access to running water, fuel, electricity, or basic supplies. You can also be assured that any law enforcement or government help would be tied up or non-existent, so the majority of you would be on your own as far as security.

To start, it would be a good idea to have a water storage plan, 6 months to a year's worth of food, extra fuel for your vehicles, a backup generator, flashlights and batteries, defensive firearms (rifle, shotgun, handgun) & ammunition, hygiene essentials (soap, detergent, first-aid kits, etc.) and essential tools for fixing broken items. There is also a possibility that if things become really bad, you may need to leave your home, so having a well-stocked Bug Out Bag is also a very good idea.

It's really hard to imagine what would happen, since these events are fairly rare. However, they are common enough that within the next few hundred years, we are pretty much guaranteed to have an event like this.

I really hope that I never have to face a situation like this, but it is always looming in the back of my mind. This morning's occurrence is just a reminder that the effects of solar flares are real and can potentially be very devastating.

Have any of you had anything strange happen to you today because of the Solar Flare? Have any of you HAM Radio users found it difficult to communicate today? Let us know in the comments below.

Take care!

Simon - Survival-Pax Team Member

P.S.
By the way, Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there!

Sources Used:
Yahoo News. Major Solar Flare Erupts from the Sun, Strongest of 2013
http://news.yahoo.com/major-solar-flare-erupts-sun-strongest-2013-105422413.html

Wikipedia. Solar storm of 1859
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

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