An X-Class CME is Coming — What to Do?

One of the questions that has come up from this post, is how long would someone have to prepare for a CME to hit the earth. According to Wikipedia:

Coronal mass ejections reach velocities between 20km/s to 3200km/s with an average speed of 489km/s, based on SOHO/LASCO measurements between 1996 and 2003. The frequency of ejections depends on the phase of the solar cycle: from about one every fifth day near the solar minimum to 3.5 per day near the solar maximum. These values are also lower limits because ejections propagating away from Earth (backside CMEs) can usually not be detected by coronagraphs.

Current knowledge of coronal mass ejection kinematics indicates that the ejection starts with an initial pre-acceleration phase characterized by a slow rising motion, followed by a period of rapid acceleration away from the Sun until a near-constant velocity is reached. Some balloon CMEs, usually the slowest ones, lack this three-stage evolution, instead accelerating slowly and continuously throughout their flight. Even for CMEs with a well-defined acceleration stage, the pre-acceleration stage is often absent, or perhaps unobservable.

Satellites are in orbit observing the sun. Solar scientist can observer the formation and ejection of a CME. In the average case (489km/s) we would have about three and half days to prepare. In the worst case (3200km/s) about 13 hours to prepare.

You can get warnings on your cellphone HERE.

What is all the fuss about? Here is what happens to electrical transmission lines during a powerful CME at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:

There are some things that you might want to consider in this PDF from the Solar Max Survival Guide:  SolarMAX_Executive_summary

Some things that a prepared family might want to consider after protecting their electronics devices in a sealed metal container,  insulated with cardboard :

• Keep your vehicle fuel tank at least 1/2 at all times. If time top off the tanks and store some extra fuel for emergency transportation.

• Have a back up power source, generator or solar panel to charge your personal electronic devices. Solar would not require any fuel, which will be hard to procure with the power infrastructure down.

• Have food suplies for at least six months, it will take that long for government to develop alternative food distribution networks.

• Be prepared to protect your assets from those who failed to prepare.

• Have an emergency radio, capable of receiving short wave bands and NOAA weather frequencies. Some parts of the world’s power network may not have been damaged, and government facilities will be repaired first.

• Have lots of batteries on hand for the radio, or buy a hand crank powered radio.

• Have an emergency water supply and a method for purifying creek, pond and rain water. A rain water collection systems will be essential.

The exact provisions for a family unit is highly dependent on the needs of individuals in the family. The above in only a starting place for your preparedness plan.


About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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2 Responses to An X-Class CME is Coming — What to Do?

  1. Russ Steele says:

    I sent this to the Board of Supervisors last week:

    Dear Supervisors:

    On 23 July 2012, a massive, and potentially damaging, Solar Superstorm (Solar flare, CME, Solar EMP) barely missed Earth, according to NASA. There is an estimated 12% chance of a similar event occurring between 2012 and 2022. Using some Bayesian analysis on the existing dataset of past storms, George Rebane calculated the chances are greater than 5 out of 6, or probability of 0.852, that we will have at least one “Extreme Storm” during the next five years. They strike the earth about every 150 yeas and we are overdue.

    Large solar flares and coronal mass ejections can have a profound effect on society:
    • Satellites can stop functioning: No GPS, no satellite communication, no TV
    • Power surges may knock out the power grid by blowing up transformers
    • Electricity supply can be cut for weeks, at national or even continental levels
    • Without electricity many other critical services become unavailable
    • Problems with food and water supply, sewage, medical care, transport, heating, etc.
    • Economies crumble, power balances shift, major global crisis could take place
    • These problems may exist for months or even years.

    My question is, does any of the County Emergency Planning Scenarios include massive loss of power, loss of cellphones and GPS satellites as the same time?

    What would County Leaders do if we were to have an extreme solar event? What plans does Nevada County have for back up communications and navigation?

    Please see the attached for some clues, on what you might consider in a public campaign to alert people to the danger and suggest they plan accordingly.

    Best Regards,

    Only Supervisor Lamphier replied that he would get back to me with a follow up.


  2. Russ Steele says:

    CHANCE OF FLARES: Sunspot AR2130 is directly facing Earth and it has a complex ‘delta-class’ magnetic field that harbors energy for strong flares. The question is, will this stubbornly-quiet sunspot actually erupt? NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares and a 10% chance of X-flares on August 4th

    Stay Tuned!


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