Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Something More to Worry about: A Big Solar Flare

So the cold is supposedly going to moderate in North America over the next few days, but The Washington Post reports that there's a big storm on the sun.  A good-sized solar flare has erupted which means incrased soalr radiation arriving in the neighborhood of the earth. Not good wether for a space walk, it seems.  And sometimes solar flare can cause manetic storms that interfere with power grids.

In 1989 such a flare caused a massive power outage in Quebec.  The  surge from the flare "created electrical currents in the ground beneath much of North America. Just after 2:44 a.m. on March 13, the currents found a weakness in the electrical power grid of Quebec," NASA says on its web site. "In less than 2 minutes, the entire Quebec power grid lost power. During the 12-hour blackout that followed, millions of people suddenly found themselves in dark office buildings and underground pedestrian tunnels, and in stalled elevators. Most people woke up to cold homes for breakfast. The blackout also closed schools and businesses, kept the Montreal Metro shut during the morning rush hour, and closed Dorval Airport."

I've tried to trackdown something I heard about how the Hydro Quebec grid is now protected against such surges, but I can't find it.  The only consolation, if this storm causes power problems, is that all that solar energy can produce amazing Northern Lights. 

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