Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say an “extreme” solar flare was detected, and geomagnetic storms remain in the forecast.
Such phenomenon can disrupt power grids, radio transmissions and other electronics, and in a worst-case scenario could actually take such systems down for extended periods.
The federal agency said the flare, near the center of the sun, happened at 1:45 p.m. Eastern Time Wednesday.
“Impacts to [high frequency] radio communications on the daylight side of Earth lasted for a little more than an hour. … Initial information suggests that [coronal mass ejection] is likely associated with this event, however, further analysis is underway at this time.”
Tom Berger of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, told the Associated Press, “There’s been a giant magnetic explosion on the sun.”
He said that because “it’s pointed right at us, we’ll at least catch some of the cloud.”
He was referring to the plasma that spews out from the sun, sending waves of energized and magnetized particles through space.
He told AP it’s been several years since a solar storm this big has targeted Earth, and while the energy doesn’t harm people directly, it can create major complications with power infrastructure, from satellites and radio waves to energized power lines.
Berger indicated the flare is considered “extreme” on forecasters’ scale but just barely
The report said the part of Earth that is facing the sun when the waves arrive will feel the impact.
WND reported only weeks ago that Earth had dodged a superstorm flare could have knocked out all unprotected technology and electrical grid systems around the world.
F. Michael Maloof, a WND senior reporter and the author of “A Nation Forsaken – EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe,” candidly spelled out the threat that the Earth had faced: Damages of $2 trillion for the first year and up to 160 million people left starving because of the collapse of food and fuel delivery systems, both dependent on various electrical and programmable systems.
There is a way to protect your electronics in an EMP event, the Faraday bags from the WND Superstore. Also featured there is “A Nation Forsaken,” an emergency radio, a personal water straw to clean water, a how-to guidebook for fleeing danger and a long list of supplies helpful for being self-reliant.
At the time, Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado had released findings about the July 2012 superstorm. Baker explained that if there had been a direct hit at that time, “We would still be picking up the pieces.”
The storms begin with solar flares that emit X-rays and other extreme ultraviolet radiation. If Earth is in the path, the flare would strike at the speed of light. A side effect would be a solar electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, that would affect everything from communications to vulnerable electrical grids.
NASA said the July 2012 solar flare was at least as powerful as the 1859 Carrington Event, named after English astronomer Richard Carrington. In the days that followed Carrington’s observation, there were intense geometric storms viewed from the Arctic to Cuba that caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices.
Talk-radio host George Noory, whose “Coast to Coast AM” show is the biggest overnight draw in North America, is so concerned about the issue of EMP attacks that he’s launched a campaign to work on persuading Congress to take action.
“I implore all individual states, the president and members of Congress to immediately develop a plan to protect our power grid,” said Noory. “The preservation of our great nation and the lives of its people are critical.”
Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, answered questions about the EMP threat that were prepared for his July 21 interview with George Noory on “Coast to Coast AM.”
He said scientists generally are in agreement that a natural or manmade electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, event “can be devastating to our unprotected electrical grid, electronics and automated control systems. Depending on its intensity, an EMP can have a catastrophic, cascading impact on all of the electricity-dependent critical infrastructures on which we rely for survival.”
He noted: “The importance of this problem became apparent after some members of Congress had been told by Soviet Duma, or parliament, members that the then-Soviet Union could ‘bring America to its knees’ with one EMP nuclear device exploded at a high altitude, destroying the U.S. grid. As a consequence, Congress in 2000 mandated the creation of an EMP Commission of prominent scientists to look at the effects of an EMP on our national grid and all of the critical infrastructures that depend on it.”
He explained: “In a 2004 preliminary finding and again in a 2008 final, more in-depth report, the EMP Commission showed in considerable detail the catastrophic impact an EMP would have on such critical infrastructures as telecommunications, banking and finance, petroleum and natural gas delivery, transportation, food and water delivery, emergency services and space systems.”
The impacts could include “unprecedented cascading failures of major infrastructures.”
“Given the prospect of an EMP event over a wide geographical area of the country, it could push the nation back virtually to the 19th century, with our urban environment being the most severely affected. Some EMP experts suggest the urban centers of the United States could become extinct, given the high potential for disease as a result of a buildup of garbage and sewage due to the breakdown of sanitation, as well as other secondary effects, leading to the prospect of death and starvation to some 90 percent of the U.S. population,” he reported.
He also noted that an EMP can be manufactured by a nuclear explosion at altitude over a country. That means an enemy with the capability to launch a nuclear bomb on even a traditional rocket potentially could cause a collapse of a nation’s infrastructure.
WND reported just a year ago that Earth was brushed by a coronal mass ejection that left behind bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.
NASA reports the potential for a solar storm maximum as the sun approaches the height of its 11-year cycle runs through 2014.
Flares are expected to continue into 2020.