A “Space Weather Preparedness Strategy” report just released by United Kingdom officials stated that we will only have a 12-hour warning before a severe solar storm, or X-Class solar flare, hits Earth. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills report aptly noted the unpredictability of solar flares and said government officials and emergency and disaster responders will have a short window to prepare for a power grid down situation.
The U.K. solar storm report also cited the Carrington Event of 1859 when detailing the dire impact of coronal mass ejections — CMS. A massive solar storm is historically likely to happen approximately every 100 to 200 years. During the Carrington Event, the Earth was hit with a wave of “energetic particles” followed by a powerful solar flare. Telegraph poles and wires caught fire, and papers on operator’s desks were also reportedly set ablaze.
“The main challenge we face is that awareness of the risk is low,” the report said. “Much more needs to be done to encourage potentially vulnerable sectors to adopt measures to mitigate the likely impacts.”
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, scientists have only been able to view, track, and understand solar flares for about the last two decades. The U.S. barely dodged a direct hit by a solar flare in 2012. All modern amenities would have ceased to exist for weeks, months, or even years, due to an Earth-directed X-Class solar flare.
The power grid likely would not survive a direct hit by a coronal mass ejection, or CME, The United States power grid fails more than the electrical system in any other developed nation on the globe and received just a “D+” grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers in late 2013. The power grid grade means the system is in “poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their service life,” according to the report. The ASCE also noted that a “large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration” with a “strong risk of failure.”
Excerpt from the “Space Weather Preparedness Strategy” report:
“Space weather results from solar activity. Solar activity can produce X-rays, highenergy particles and Coronal Mass Ejections of plasma. Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts. These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss) of satellite systems. This includes Global Navigation Satellite Systems on which a range of technologies depend for navigation or timing. The National Risk Assessment sets out the reasonable wort case scenario for this risk, which is based on the 1859 Carrington Event. However, other impactful if less severe events have been seen since that event.”
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