A solar storm is an event in which activity on the Sun interferes with the Earth's magnetic field. March 13, 1989 – The Quebec Blackout Storm – Astronomers were busily tracking "Active Region 5395" on the Sun when suddenly it disgorged a massive cloud of superheated gas on March 10, 1989. This recent explosion from the active region near the sun's northwest limb hurled a coronal mass ejection into space at a whopping speed of roughly 7.2 million kilometers per hour. Both the 1989 Quebec blackout and the Carrington Event of 1859 – which was stronger and took out telegraph machines — show us the need to develop strategies for coping with a massive solar storm. In March 1989, Québec experienced a blackout caused by a solar storm. Three days later, and seemingly unrelated to the solar paroxicism, people around the world saw a spectacular Northern Lights display. The System Control Centre was doing what it could to maintain stability. On March 12, the first voltage fluctuations were being seen on the Hydro-Québec transmission grid. GOES-7 weather satellite lost half of its solar cells during a large proton release by the sun during the powerful March 13, 1989 storm which cut the operating life span of this satellite in half. A Scary 13th: 20 Years Ago, Earth Was Blasted with a Massive Plume of Solar Plasma [Slide Show] Violent space weather treated many to a fantastic display of … The flare was definitely more powerful than the famous solar flare on March 6, 1989, which was related to the disruption of power grids in Canada. Because the Sun is so far away, many people believe that these storms are not capable of causing very much damage, but they can in fact be quite devastating.
Local power generation (wind, solar, nuclear) would do a great deal to mitigate the damage caused by a solar storm that can happen at even milder storms than the 1989 … In March 1989, for example, a geomagnetic storm that was about a third of the strength of the Carrington Event caused an electricity grid operated by the Canadian firm Hydro-Québec to fail, triggering a nine-hour blackout for about six million people. On March 10, a strong wind left the Sun, heading for Earth. In March 1989, a sunspot unleashed a solar flare towards the Earth that caused a spectacular display of the northern lights, or aurora borealis, reaching all the way down to the Gulf Coast.