According to Tech Radar, in 1859, a solar flare hit the Earth’s atmosphere and created beautiful auroras, but it also interrupted electrical systems between North America and Europe. Some telegraph operators even got shocks from their equipment. It seems space weather is a real thing.
A solar flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation of brightness of the sun. It occurs when magnetic energy in the solar atmosphere increases and it releases a lot of radiation from all over the spectrum. The first solar flare, recorded in astronomical literature, was on September 1,1859.
The Daily Mail reports that if a solar storm were to happen today, it could wipe out modern civilization in minutes. The internet, the power grids, the phone lines: all gone. It could give us a blackout for months or more. It is estimated that the U.S. would lose around $2-trillion because of it.
They also report that The White House is working on a plan to prepare our country for a solar disaster. The biggest challenge is that we currently only have a 15 to 60-minute warning before one of these flares happens. They are working on satellites to help give us an adequate warning of an upcoming flare.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also added space weather to its list of disasters to plan for. Many other countries don’t have plans for this possible disaster at all.
Research is being conducted to help identify the damage that these solar flares would cause. They will use this research to develop a plan for such a huge storm. The government is already working on ways to strengthen our power grids so that we would not lose all power if a flare hit.
The government is also looking globally at this and communicating with other countries about the effects of flares as well. We need to be prepared for every national disaster.
In 2012, we had a similar large solar flare come close to the Earth. It missed us by about nine days. If it had hit, it would have knocked out GPS systems, grounded airplanes, and cut electricity.