PART 1: SOLAR STORMS
The Carrington Event
In September 1859, Richard Carrington, an amateur astronomer in the London, England area, pointed his telescope towards the sun, using dark filters to protect his eyes. Suddenly, he observed a flash of intense white light from the area of the sunspots. His observation is the earliest record of what we now know is a solar flare.
The next day, the charged plasma from that solar storm reached Earth. It lit up the entire northern hemisphere, all the way to Hawaii and Rome, with vivid red, blue, green auroras. There were also reports of magnetic disturbances: Compasses went haywire during the bombardment.
More seriously, the solar eruption battered the world’s fledgling communication network. Telegraph wires burst into flames, touching off fires. Telegraph machines scorched paper printouts, stunned operators with electric shocks, and continued working for hours even after being unplugged from the batteries that powered them.
The Carrington Event was not the only serious solar storm to hit the earth. According to analysis of tree rings, the years 774 and 993 also marked some devastating solar events. The 774 event was found to be a staggering 30 to 70 times stronger than the Carrington Event. In more recent history, the 1921 Geomagnetic Storm unleashed a CME that caused telegraph buildings to burst into flame in Europe and the United States.
The 1989 Quebec CME
On March 13, 1989, a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) hit the Earth. Especially affected was Quebec, Canada. The CME caused the power grid to fail. During the nine- hour blackout that followed, millions found themselves with no light or heat.
Solar flares are ranked in five categories by intensity: A, B, C, M, and X, with X-class flares the strongest. Any X-class flare that is earth-facing between a magnitude of 1 and 10 can potentially cause damage to fragile electronics on the earth. In October 2003, one of the most intense solar storms ever documented occurred. It produced an aurora visible as far south as Texas and the Mediterranean countries of Europe. What was the magnitude of the solar flare? A whopping X-45! Fortunately for us, it was facing AWAY from the earth! We dodged a bullet here. Had this storm been earth-facing, it no doubt would have caused severe damage to our power grid, computers and other electronics.
What would happen if a solar storm similar to an earth-facing 2003 flare or the Carrington Event, were to happen in today’s modern world? And, with all the recent war drums beating wildly, what about the threat of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)? I’ll have more about EMPs in Part 2).
What is the difference between all of these, and how would they affect us? What can we do to protect ourselves AND our electronic stuff?
What’s the difference?
First off, let’s define these different terms:
1. Solar storm: An umbrella term that can include solar flares and CMEs.
2. Solar flare: A large ejection of protons within the sun’s atmosphere. Note that earth-facing solar flares are the ones to worry about.
3. Coronal Mass Ejection (CME): Very large releases of plasma and magnetism from the surface of the sun. Again, the earth-facing CMEs are the ones to be concerned about. Some CMEs are in the form of a halo, or half-circle.
4. Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): A pulse of high-intensity electromagnetic radiation generated especially by a nuclear blast high above the earth’s surface, and claimed to disrupt electronic and electrical systems
According to NASA, the energy from a (solar) flare can disrupt the area of the atmosphere through which radio waves travel. This can lead to degradation and, at worst, temporary blackouts in navigation and communications signals.
On the other hand, CMEs can funnel particles into near-Earth space. A CME can jostle Earth’s magnetic fields, creating currents that drive particles down toward Earth’s poles. When these react with oxygen and nitrogen, they help create the aurora, also known as the Northern and Southern Lights. Additionally, the magnetic changes can affect a variety of human technologies. High-frequency radio waves can be degraded: Radios transmit static, and GPS coordinates stray by a few yards. The magnetic oscillations can also create electrical currents in utility grids on Earth that can overload electrical systems when power companies are not prepared.
Also, according to NASA, December 2019 marked the beginning of Solar Cycle 25, and the Sun’s activity will once again ramp up until solar maximum, predicted for 2025. So, in the next three years or so, we can expect to see increased solar storms.
Solar storms in the Bible
Even the Bible predicts some unusual solar activity at some point in the future. The prophet Isaiah wrote: “Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the Lord bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound.” (Isaiah 30:26 KJV)
Imagine the sun seven times hotter or brighter than it is right now! Obviously, this event must be rather brief, or life as we know it would cease to exist. So, the apparent briefness would seem to coincide with the relative briefness of a solar flare or CME.
Similarly, the book of Revelation describes how the sun will be one of the seal judgments to hit the earth in the last days: “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.” (Revelation 16:8 KJV).
Solar activity and drought
But back to solar flares and CMEs. One thing that is particularly concerning is that this increased solar activity is coming on the heels of what some are calling the worst drought in over 1,000 years. The drought has been especially pronounced in the Southwestern United States.
Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado River, was once the largest water reservoir in the United States. But it is already down to its lowest water levels in history. If the water level in Lake Mead drops too low, it will become a “dead pool”—with water too low to produce hydroelectricity via the Hoover Dam, and too low to pump to cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles—and 4-to-5 million acres of farmland in the Southwest.
In Europe, this current summer has been particularly brutal, the continent’s worst since 1757, according to some meteorologists. Many heat wave records have already been broken. In the British Isles in Wales, an all-time temperature record of 98.8°F was set on July 11, 2022. In France, Spain, and Portugal, massive wildfires associated with the heat are burning.
Also in July, 2022, the Portuguese town of Lousã set an all-time record of 115 degrees, and Lisbon set a July record of 106 degrees. Of course, many people are blaming these extreme temperatures on “man-made global warming” or “climate change,” while ignoring the historical cyclical nature of solar activity and its effects on the earth’s climate.
Let’s not forget the long-term effects of drought caused by either increased solar activity or natural boom-bust weather cycles. Less rainfall means that farmers receive less deliveries of water, and are forced to cut back on cultivation, or in many cases, have gone bankrupt, pulling cropland and orchards out of production. All this has led to, and will lead to further scarcity of food. We are already seeing the results of this scarcity with inflation at the highest levels in over 40 years.
When you couple food shortages with supply chain issues and the possibility of the current Ukraine war expanding to reach our own shores, it could well spell future disaster. We will eventually see widespread famine.
Effects of solar storms on the earth
In the Carrington event, as mentioned earlier, telegraph wires caught on fire as a result of the solar storm. Back in the mid-1800s, the telegraph was about the only advanced technology that existed. But how would the same event affect our modern world today? For one thing, the same solar storm today would probably cause regional power outages. Some areas of the earth would probably be affected more than others. Depending on the magnitude of the solar flare or CME, the damage could range from moderate to severe. The 1989 Quebec CME caused a nine-hour power blackout. A Carrington event, or worse, a Year 773 event would most probably cause extensive damage to power plants, power lines, and transformers, causing blackouts lasting days, weeks or even months.
Satellites are also vulnerable to solar storm activity. On Feb. 9, 2022, a relatively weak solar storm (G-1 class) damaged 40 SpaceX Starlink satellites, and caused them to fall from orbit and back to the earth. The satellites were filmed falling from the sky at night near Puerto Rico. Think of how dependent we are on satellites nowadays: That means that a major solar storm could potentially disrupt even MORE satellites than the Starlink incident, along with GPS, airplane travel, radio and television signals, cell phone towers and service, and emergency response. And since so much of the internet is dependent on satellite transmission, that means you will probably be without your beloved email and Facebook for an extended time.
What can you do?
If you live in the city, the best general prep advice is to have as much canned goods and water stored up as possible. Be prepared for an extended time with no electricity, possibly no water and no sewage service. Water filtration devices, at least the Sport Berkey, is a must to filter out harmful bacteria for drinking water. If you live out in the country, hopefully you have a well with either fuel to power up a pump, a solar-powered pump, or even an old-fashioned deep well hand pump.
What if you’re off-grid and have solar panels? There are surge protectors on the market which claim to provide a certain level of protection. For smaller electronics such as a laptop computer or an emergency AM/FM/SW Shortwave radio, you can place these into a Faraday cage, which in theory protects them from both solar storms and EMPs. You can buy a small Faraday cage for your cell phone, or a larger bag version for laptops, radios and other electronics.
Or, you can create a Faraday cage by placing these devices into a sealed cardboard box, then wrap aluminum foil around it. You can also place a cardboard box or boxes into a metal trash can, making sure to close the lid. You should also line the gap between the lid and the can with that aluminum tape for additional protection. There are many articles on this, so I won’t go into too much detail here. A Shortwave radio protected by a Faraday cage, powered by batteries could quite possibly pick up a transmission from another part of the world not affected by a solar storm. Any bit of news you can glean from such broadcasts could be very helpful.
Watch the current trends carefully. As we see an increase of solar storms and a worsening of drought conditions, along with the corresponding food shortages, it makes sense for all of us to ramp up our food and supply stockpiles. I believe, and have believed for some time, that it is wise to buy essentials now, before they are gone.
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