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What to Expect in a Solar Storm

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Can you cram in 12 hours all the survival essentials you would need to save your family for several months?

That’s all the warning you would have before a solar storm takes out the power grid, according to a new government report from the United Kingdom.

The Space Weather Preparedness Strategy report revealed that the warning could be as little as 12 hours before a coronal mass ejection (CME) hits Earth and sends us all back to a 1800s existence.

It typically takes one to three days for a CME to arrive, and predictions are accurate to within about six hours.

“Generally speaking, the faster the ejection, the greater the potential impacts,” the report said. “The [1859] Carrington Event, for example, travelled to Earth in as little as 18 hours. It is therefore likely that our reasonable worst case scenario would only allow us 12 hours from observation to impact.”

Unlike the 1800s, people in the modern generally don’t know how to raise their own food, use alternative medicine, and protect their family when the lights go out. It’s not hyperbole to say that panic would ensue mere moments after a government warning was issued, with people rushing to supermarkets and emptying the shelves.

During the Carrington Event, telegraph poles and wires, the most advanced technology at the time, caught fire. The solar storm was so powerful that telegraph operators said papers on their desks suddenly burst into flames.

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Want to know more? Check out these related articles on our site:

Why Solar Storms are So Dangerous

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