WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Solar Poles are about to flip; could disrupt long-distance radio communications & sensitive electronics

Brace yourselves.

Top solar scientists predict the Sun's magnetic field will reverse itself over the next three to four months.

Indeed, we're looking at what's called the Solar Maximum - the time of peak solar activity - meaning the potential for solar flares hurling toward earth.

Long-distance radio hobbyists (like me) and amateur radio operators have become accustomed to periodic disruptions of long-distance radio communications.

But the paradox: Our high tech, sensitive gadgetry is much more vulnerable to the effects of solar storms than our old technology. Old-fashioned, hard-wired phones are more durable than cellphones.

Just like a giant hurricane which never quite makes landfall - let alone hitting any populated areas - a big solar flare could leave us relatively unscathed.

But, a near worst-case scenario: Black-outs of GPS satellites involved in aviation navigation. The collapse of wireless networks that energize Blackberrys and iPhones. The collapse of electric grids. Health-threatening radiation for the astronauts in the international space station... and even pilots & crew in high-flying aircraft.

More innocently, tremendous aurora displays in the skies. Gee, it would be great to be able to see the Northern Lights from Delmarva. (A solar storm in 1958 made the Northern Lights visible as far south as Mexico. More ominously, that storm severed radio communications in the United States at the zenith of the Cold War, triggering worries of a real hot war.)

Even relatively minor solar events have forced airlines to divert commercial flights.

Here's a link to the NASA article about the anticipated solar magnetic flip...


Of course, among the ranks of the paranoid, you can find blogs and columns expressing fears that the magnetic fields of the Sun AND Earth could flip simultaneously -- with the possible weakening - or disappearance -- of Earth's protective magnetic shield. The effects of that, of course, would be catastrophic.

Posted at 7:28am on August 7, 2013 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike from Delaware
Wed, Aug 7, 2013 10:26am
Interesting news story. According to the NASA link you provided, the sun switches poles about every 11 years. So this is a regular occurrence, but I also agree as our society gets even more and more dependent on very delicate hi-tech stuff micro processors, etc., etc., vs. the less hi-tech old-style tubes, relays, and hard-wiring, etc., of the past, we are more vulnerable. Granted even those old tech things could have issues, but definitely far far less, as the impact in today's world could be larger than in the past.

This sort of event should be a "humbling" thing for mankind that hopefully reminds us that we only "think" we are the masters of our world, and an event such as this can topple our world just as the Tower of Babel. Nothing's changed; our puny efforts are child's play next to the Creator of the Universe, God. God is still in control, no matter what the so called "intellectual elites" claim. We are part of his creation.

Allan Loudell
Wed, Aug 7, 2013 10:41am
True, it is a "regular" event.

And, apparently the solar flares are apt to occur on EITHER side of the flip; technically, not during the flip itself, to my understanding.

But our delicate, very sensitive new technology is vulnerable.

Allan Loudell

Wed, Aug 7, 2013 1:12pm
One must think back. Eleven years ago was in 2002, and prior to that, 1991. We had high-tech back then inside our military defense shield, which is probably equal to what the standard population has now. It should be a non-event in any effects felt by earth. As the kind professor on your broadcast speculated, an earth flip, because of the biological implications, could be more profound but in small ways. Essentially relative to the expansive solar system, the sun's magnetic flip would have the same effect to the change experienced on the walls of your dining room when you picked up a bar magnet and turned it around 180 degrees on your dining room table. True, some effect might be measurable, but, it would take very sensitive instruments to notice it at all.

Wed, Aug 7, 2013 2:04pm
The collapse of wireless networks that energize Blackberrys and iPhones.

People still use Blackberrys? :)

Wed, Aug 7, 2013 2:05pm
sigh... as if done just to prove me wrong...


Wed, Aug 7, 2013 7:27pm
Once again, another version of the Y2K scare.

Fri, Aug 9, 2013 3:35pm
mr. Pizza. the Y2K scare was real.. In fact we here in Delaware had one company that planned on having everything go hayware, so they could make up billing that was excessive and after getting the suckers to pay first, they would ratchet the amounts paid downwards. It was a scam. it was completely fabricated. What they didn't anticipate, was that everyone else would correct the problem. So when it came time to flip the millennium, there were no issues, there was no chaos, EXCEPT WITH THAT ONE COMPANY. Everyone received electric bills for years of service... and those on the inside said it was done on purpose. That management figured they could coerce more out of billing in chaos than if they underwent the expense and did the Y2K fix.

So the problem was real. it was those who took is seriously who weren't the fools. Had nothing been done, as with this company, total chaos would have construed.

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