This summer has been quite a season for weather extremes. Various degrees of drought, and rainstorms have afflicted much of these United States. This coming week another storm is getting ready to hit planet Earth that could cause some serious issues for telecommunications and our electric grid. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) a magnetic storm will develop into a moderate to strong level event. Three large explosions from the Sun over the past few days have prompted the NOAA warnings. These solar storms will effect communications and global positioning satellites and may even produce an aurora visible as far south as Minnesotan and Wisconsin. Communications disruptions from solar activity is fairly rare, but has caused serious impacts in the past. In 1989 a solar storm took down the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving six million people without power for several hours. The largest storm ever recorded was in 1859 when communications was limited to telegraphs. The 1859 solar storm hit telegraph offices around the world and caused a giant aurora visible as far south as the Caribbean Islands. If a solar storm of a similar magnitude were to hit today the NOAA estimates that it could cause up to $2 trillion in damage globally. The NOAA is not expecting this storm to carry anything close to this past event. But, don’t be surprised if you have difficulty texting and calling this upcoming week.
Photo Credit: NASA