Sunday’s solar flare, which was the most powerful in three years, may have exacerbated difficulties faced by first responders dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Florida and the Carolinas.
The solar flare, classified as an X1 (the mildest form of the strongest category of flares) erupted from the sun on Sunday at 3:53 p.m. EDT (1953 GMT) and peaked about 30 minutes later. Since solar flares travel near the speed of light, anyone in its path would have experienced a radio blackout lasting up to an hour long.
Solar flares are not uncommon, but this one posed a particular problem because of its timing and location. The resulting radio blackout made it difficult for emergency responders to communicate with each other and coordinate their efforts. In addition, the solar flare may have caused problems for other electronic devices in the affected area, including cell phones and GPS units.
Fortunately, the radio blackout was relatively short-lived and emergency responders were able to quickly adapt to the situation. However, the solar flare serves as a reminder of the potential disruptions that can be caused by space weather.
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