A solar CME is an eruption caused by a sudden release of energy from magnetic lines of force. During a solar minimum, or time of equilibrium within the sun, CME's are usually produced every other Earth day, and come from the sun's equatorial region.
In solar maximum, the CMEs may rise to five or six per Earth day, and may come from anywhere on the sun.
The CME's are large clouds of charged particles ejected from the sun. Driven by solar wind and the Interplanetary Magnetic Field. When the Earth receives CME's from the sun, they are Interplanetary CME's, (ICME's). When these ICME's of solar particles are carried to the Earth's poles they bombard nitrogen and oxygen in the earth's ionosphere. This creates the aurora.
This year through 2013 is supposed to be a peak time for solar activity.
These ICME's can interfere with satellites, radio and electrical line transmissions, and electronic equipment. According to Keshav Saini in Extra Terrestrial Environment, "Solar flare also erupts charged particles into the space that can cause serious damage to the power grids and electromagnetic appliances or any other system that uses the application of electromagnetic energy."
One of the last sizable ICMEs came during early August 2010. No problems were recorded here in Altus. During that time the Altus Times interviewed Altus City Electrical Superintendent Dan Scott and Altus Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston. Scott has studied ICMEs and is well aware of their possible effects on the power grid. He stated in 2010 that he feels confident that Altus is prepared to handle most solar disturbances. When contacted about this coming solar event, Scott said he didn't anticipate any problems with the electrical supply in our community. Lloyd Colston said in 2010 that ham radio operators often find ICME's extend the range of radio transmission, making it possible to pick up distant transmissions through what they call "skip".
Altus Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston has submitted this information on the Coronal Mass Ejection and how ham radios can be useful in this situation. He has provided the following link: "http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/index.html"
The link is the current information form the Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado. This is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospherics Administration in the Department of Commerce. Readers who may be concerned may wish to get alerts from this source.
Altus Emergency Management Director Lloyd Colston said "Locally, emergency management monitors this and other conditions. Certainly, this may be a threat to the National power grid but, more importantly, this may cause communication disruption to High Frequency radio and satellite telephones. As an emergency manager, I continue to encourage folks to have three ways to communicate and certainly not rely on just a cell phone."
Colston said, "I'm a huge fan of amateur radio because it requires a license which exhibits some measure of technical skill. Past that, there's a number of active amateur radio organizations in the area with an interest in helping Citizens by coaching radio techniques. Lastly, the amateur radio license is available to all."
The link from the American Radio Relay League to one of the local clubs is: "http://www.arrl.org/Groups/view/altus-area-ara/type:club".
As always, Colston recommends self-sufficiency for 72 hours in any emergency as the standard. He added, "While I have confidence in our local power company, there is little that can be done to make us immune to a wide-spread outage, such as we had two years ago with the ice storm."
According to Wikipedia, "the most powerful flare ever observed was the first one to be observed, on September 1, 1859, and was reported by British astronomer Richard Carrington and independently by an observer named Richard Hodgson." That one was named the Solar storm 1859 or the "Carrington event".
A complete list of solar events in modern history is available at "http://www.spaceweather.com/solarflares/topflares.html".