Almost two years ago I asked the question, "Do Solar Storms Threaten Life as We Know it?" The answer then and even more so now could very well be a scary "yes" - even within the next few years - as an increase in solar activity coincides with the increasing vulnerability of technology-dependent societies to a powerful solar storm. Moreover, should there be a solar strike capable of causing widespread blackouts and crippling disruptions of satellilte and radio communications, it's likely there would be little advance notice, and currently there is virtually no capability to shield much of the planet and virtually no planning on the books to recover from the potentially disastrous consequences.
A long-time friend of mine, prominent climate scientist Kevin Trenberth, sent me his eyewitness account of Tuesday's deadly earthquake in New Zealand. Kevin is a native of New Zealand who coincidentally was visiting family and friends when the earthquake struck.
NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (part of NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS), has issued an alert for an increase in solar activity to moderate levels with a chance for an isolated major solar flare over the next few days. The consequent solar wind, consisting of charged atomic particles, is expected to intersect the upper atmosphere over Polar Regions February 17-19, leading to the possibility of brilliant auroras. Whether or not we will be able to see an aurora locally in the northern sky depends upon several factors.
Despite major advances in scientific understanding and the development of computer-based weather models, there remains much room for improvement. Anyone who has followed this season's winter storm predictions has, no doubt, observed this. While there never will be perfect forecasts due to chaos (i.e. the butterfly effect), there is considerable opportunity for more accurate predictions and better estimates of associated levels of confidence in hazardous winter weather systems.
This week marks the anniversary of what's probably one of the most ferocious and deadly blizzards in this country which, perchance, you've never heard about. On the morning of January 12, 1888, a blizzard swept down suddenly on the unsuspecting inhabitants on the prairies of the upper Midwest (especially portions of Nebraska and South Dakota) with unprecedented ferocity.
Jamie Yesnowitz, Capital Weather Gang's (CWG) "Weather Checker" referred to the uncertainty aspect of the CWG forecasts, but yet called the performance of CWG as "less than accurate". This suggests to me he might not understand the basic concepts of probability.