Solar Tsunami Video: This Scary Solar Storm Could Wreak Havoc Like Hurricane Sandy

On Friday, two huge solar tsunamis were captured by NASA cameras — giant waves of plasma that stretch out from the sun. Scientists are predicting that we’ll see more of them next year. If it weren’t for recently witnessing the effects of Hurricane Sandy, I normally wouldn’t worry. But after seeing what a city that’s flooded and blacked out really looks like, it's clear that even a city like New York City isn't really prepared for natural disasters. We need better plans.

This time around, there was no threat to us Earthlings from the solar tsunamis. But, there could be. In fact, next year, it’s likely. NASA scientists are predicting a massive flare up in 2013 that could knock out communications and electrical grids. A kind of “Solar Max.” 


Solar tsunamis were first witnessed in 1997. The waves emanating from the sun were so massive that at first NASA scientists thought it must be a shadow. They rose up higher than Earth is wide.

These space "tsunamis" are a kind of radiation. They release a cloud of electrons, ions and atoms that can reach Earth in a day or two – crossing about 93 million miles. Satellites can be damaged, GPS signals can go down, radio waves can cease to work and, possibly, electrical grids can drop out. In short, they can wreak havoc here on Earth.

It feels like we're in an era of intense natural disasters and our local governments need better disaster plans to deal with them. Say what you want about climate change, or global warming, the planet continues to spin out of our control. And as Hurricane Sandy recently showed, natural disasters often leave parts of our cities a wreck and everyone pointing fingers. We need better, actionable plans for dealing with them.

Let’s just hope that when the solar max comes in 2013, the planet doesn’t end up looking something like it does in Revolution – I don’t think any of us wants that to become our reality.

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Michael McCutcheon

Michael was formerly special projects editor at Mic. Prior to that, he worked at the Open Society Foundations on electoral reform. A native Seattleite, he's still mad about the SuperSonics.

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