After a long absence, our Sun once again has sun spots which are currently giving off moderate solar flares. This current cycle known as Sun Cycle 24 was predicted to start around 2013, and was also predicted to produce moderate solar flares.
Why are we writing about solar flares and solar storms here on Disaster Preparedness Blog?
Because there have been major events in the past where these storms (also referred to as, solar tempest, Geomagnetic storms, Geomagnetic Induced Currents - GIC, Coronal Mass Ejections - CME's, among others,to learn more please refer to our references) have caused outages to communications equipment.
One of the most notable is the events of September 1st 1859, in which telegraph lines were completely burned up leaving only ashes behind on the ground.
While there have been other events, such as the GIC induced blackout in Quebec, Canada which occurred in March 1989, and in 2003 over 20,000 people in Sweden lost power, and two Japanese satellites were disabled.
Also, in 1994 a Canadian telecommunications Satellite was disabled and it took six months and approximately $70 million to repair. These are not the only events which have occured due to these storms, but are some of the most notable.
A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) titled: Severe Space Weather Events - Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report (which can be viewed at the link) highlights our vulnerabilities and suggests that should the events of August 28th through September 2nd 1859 occur today the estimated dollar value of the damage caused would be around $2 trillion (for the first year) and would cause a cascade of failures which would take from 4 - 10 years to repair.
If this should occur, communications lines, and technology would be severely impacted. Even satellite communications would most likely be sporadic, if not completely disrupted as well.
This event would nearly instantly set the United States as well as other locations around the globe back to pre-telegraph days and reliable communications with customers and clients would be severely impacted.
For businesses the only viable forms of communications for such an event would be to rely on traditional mail and courier services, and some communications through hand-held radios or HAM radios may be possible if these systems were protected.
The United States is entirely unprepared for such an event, and the impact would have long term devastating effects on critical infrastructure and private sectors alike.
Having a plan in place now can help you keep your business going, don't wait till it's too late!