The Sun unleashed an M-Class solar flare late yesterday. The strong mid-level solar flare was captured in a series of images by the Solar Dynamics Observatory operate by NASA. The solar flare was classified at a strength of M9.3 and was nearly powerful enough to be deemed an X-Class solar flare – the strongest on the scale.
Sunspot AR1996 was the area of origin for the solar flare. The sunspot is on its way out of cycle. The solar flare”briefly altered” low-frequency transmitters around the world, according to SpaceWeather. Sunspot AR1996 is reportedly fading and is located on the eastern limb of the Sun, which mitigated the effects on Earth.
Space weather watchers were not immediately sure if a coronal mass ejection (CME) followed the burst from Sunspot AR1996. Both M-Class and X-Class solar flares are powerful enough to prompt geomagnetic storms on Earth. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Sun unleashed its most powerful solar flare of 2014 late last month. The February 24 flare stemmed from Sunspot AR1990.
If an Earth-directed solar of M-Class or X-Class strength did hit, the power grid could fail and the planet be left in the dark. The most powerful solar flare in recorded history was the Carrington Event of 1859. The most advanced technology of the time, the telegraph, failed as transmission lines burned, even scorching papers on the desks of operators in many cases.
In 2003 a solar storm caused just a minor blackout in Sweden, but also resulted in severe damage to the power grid in South Africa. After 14 massive transformers were knocked off line, the country experienced rolling blackouts for many months. The outdated nature of the South African power grid and a lack of adequate maintenance were cited as the reasons the power grid experienced the long-term blackouts. The power grid in the United States could easily be compared to the South African grid of 2003.
Surviving Doomsday: A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster author Richard Duarte had this to say when sharing his thoughts on the SHIELD Act and solar flare/EMP preparedness:
“Our modern society has no idea what a national-level disaster looks like. The closest we have come in our lifetime were the events of September 11 and the chaos and confusion that followed the attacks. Aside from those horrible events, nothing has even come close. A grid-down situation would be a disaster on a national scale. Since everything we rely on is based on the assumption that there will always be an uninterrupted flow electrical power, a grid-down situation has the potential to devastate the US economy and wreak havoc among the population in just a few days. Neither the public nor the private sector has the resources or the ability to address this on a national level; Congress and the federal government must tackle this one. In the short term, it will be very expensive, but in the long term, the cost of doing nothing and just standing by and watching the train wreck is completely unacceptable.”
[Image Via NASA]