Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Solar Storms

     I know that I said the next post would be an update on my BOB, but I am pushing that back a couple of days, because we are currently in the middle of a strong solar storm, and so I thought it would be a bit appropriate to discuss what exactly these solar storms are and how we can prepare for them.

                     Regular sun activity.                 The type of CME that creates a solar storm.
     A solar storm is the result of a cornal mass ejection (CME) or solar flare. The result is that a huge cloud of electrons, ions, and atoms are thrown out into space, and if it happens to be thrown out in the direction of the Earth, we experience a solar storm. While light takes eight minutes to travel from the Sun to the Earth, the coronal mass ejection takes considerably longer to reach the earth, generally about a day. The result is, that as long as space agencies are monitoring the sun, we can predict the coming of these solar storms at least a day in advance.

     Now, what happens when the solar storm reaches the Earth, depends on how strong the solar storm is. Many times, as we go about our daily lives, we don't even realize that a solar storm is occuring. If we do realize that a solar storm is occuring, it is usually because it is a strong storm, and it is causing disruptions.
If there are disruptions caused by the solar storm, it will generally be with something electrical.

     Normally solar storms don't affect the Earth's surface. The most common interference is with satellites, which can be disrupted or damaged by the solar storms. While it isn't the usual though, there can be effects that range from long distance telephone communication being disrupted or knocked out, to wide spread power outages.

     So what do we do to prepare? Well we have to think of all the ramifications. Communications be knocked out will just generally be an inconvience, and isn't likely to last much longer than a day or two. A power outage on the other hand is definatly something to be prepared for.  Especially if a solar storm happens during winter, like is happening right now.

     The power will go out, and the most immediate concern will be getting light. You can't do much in the dark. After that, especially in northern parts of the globe, heat is the next priority. Blankets are the best thing to have. First, you can use blankets to keep yourself warm. If you have a fireplace, and get a fire going, you can also put up blankets across open doors to help keep heat in, and the cold from other areas of the house out. Another thing you may want to consider for preperation, especially in the winter, is the possibility of moving to another location, should the power outage last more than a couple of days.

     The other thing you'll need for this kind of situation is water and food. Specifically food that doesn't need to be cooked in something like an oven or a microwave. If you have been a prepper for any length of time, most likely you have extra food and water that you're storing, and this is one of those times that it will definatly come in handy.

     So, as far as potential disasters to prepare for go, a solar storm isn't something that I feel needs to be worried about too much. However, it is always good to be prepared, just in case. One upside to a solar storm? Northern Lights. They can be seen much further south than normal during a solar storm, so if you have clear skies during a solar storm, take a peak outside and you might be able to catch sight of this beautiful natural phenomenon. So if you guys have any survival plans for solar storms, or pictures of the Auroras during this storm, post them up in the comments. The update on my BOB will be coming soon!


A few articles on the current solar storm:

How NASA Keeps an Eye on Solar Storm:

Solar Storm's Effects to Lash Earth Until Wednesday:

Delta Reroutes Flights as Solar Storm Hits Earth:

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