1921 Solar Event May Have Been Bigger than Carrington Event

From ARRL Letter – September 26, 2019 – http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter?issue=2019-09-26

Scientific American reports that, according to new data, the “New York Railroad Storm” of 1921 may have surpassed the intensity of the famous Carrington Event of 1859. In his paper published in the journal Space Weather, Jeffrey Love of the US Geological Survey and his colleagues reexamined the intensity of the 1921 event in greater detail than previously.

Although different measures of intensity exist, geomagnetic storms are often rated on an index called disturbance storm time (Dst) — a way of gauging global magnetic activity by averaging out values for the strength of Earth’s magnetic field measured at multiple locations. Earth’s baseline Dst level is about -20 nanoteslas (nT), with a “superstorm” condition occurring when levels fall below -250 nT. Studies of the very limited magnetic data from the Carrington Event peg its intensity at anywhere from -850 to -1,050 nT. According to Love’s study, the 1921 storm came in at about -907 nT.

Peter Ward in his 2017 New York History Blog article “Strange Phenomena: The New York Railroad Storm” recounted that theatre-goers in New York City “marveled at the spectacle” of an iridescent cloud that was brighter than the moon. “On the roof of the Times Building, reporters, having discovered the telegraph lines to be curiously blocked, gathered to watch the aerial kaleidoscope,” he wrote.

As with the earlier Carrington Event, telegraph operators experienced wild fluctuations in the current on their circuits, while wireless propagation was enhanced. “The next day, papers reported that the Central New England railroad station (also home to the telegraph switchboard) had burned to the ground.” Railroad officials later blamed the fire on the aurora.

According to Ward’s article, the lights were visible in New York, California, and Nevada. Especially in rural areas, “the lights were said to be brighter, appear closer to the ground, and even move with a swishing sound.”

Railroad and telegraph service were restored the following week, although one Western Union transatlantic cable showed signs of damage. “Delays and damage lead to some referring to it as the New York Railroad Storm,” Ward wrote.

A dramatic description of the event on the SolarStorms.org website said, “At 7:04 AM on May 15, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th Street was put out of operation, followed by a fire in the control tower at 57th Street and Park Avenue.”

The short article said a telegraph operator reported being driven away from his station by flames that enveloped his switchboard and set the building on fire. “In Sweden a telephone station was reported to have been ‘burned out,’ and the storm interfered with telephone, telegraph, and cable traffic over most of Europe,” the article said.

Record Hailstone in Colorado

From Colorado Climate Center: Along with the National Weather Service office in Goodland, today we measured the hailstone that fell NW of Bethune, CO on Tuesday, 13 August. The maximum diameter was 4.83″, which exceeds the long-standing state record of 4.5″. Photos show that it was even larger when it fell (and was about 30 mins between when it fell and was put in the freezer), so there is still work to do to formalize and finalize the values. But it’s clear that this will be a new record for Colorado!

Listening Using a WebSDR

A Software-Defined Radio (SDR) is a system where many of the traditional radio hardware components have been replaced or supplemented by means of software on a separate personal computer or a built-in operating system. While the concept of SDR has been around since the early 1970’s, recent technological advances and cost reductions have made these radios both affordable and popular among the amateur radio community.

A WebSDR is a Software-Defined Radio receiver connected to the internet which allows for multiple users to independently listen and tune simultaneously across the radio spectrum.

One of the benefits of listening on a WebSDR is that you can monitor a given frequency from an entirely different geographic location without having to actually visit that area. Here on the New England Weather Net the propagation is not always favorable to hear some of our participating stations from the local receiver. This is where listening remotely to a WebSDR will often assist you in being able to copy the net control or other participating stations.

In addition to using a WebSDR for as a remote receiver, there are some other good reasons you may want to give it a try. Here are a few:

  1. You can record and download audio files from the WebSDR server.
  2. You can test your station’s signal strength or check for open propagation in a given region.
  3. You can take it with you anywhere there is an internet connection. Most mobile browsers support WebSDR’s so you can wonder the house or the hi-way and listen to your favorite net on a smart phone, tablet, or similar device.

Below you will find some links to a few WebSDR’s that can be used to monitor the New England Weather Net:

A global list of active WebSDR servers can be found here: http://www.websdr.org/


Jack, W1AYX


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Snow Flurries? How do I report them?

Great question. If you have a snow flurry and see flakes in the air but nothing accumulates on the ground, that is still a “Trace” of snow and should be reported as such “T”. And remember, a Trace of snow means you’ve had at least a trace of precipitation. You cannot report 0 for your precipitation when you’ve had a trace or more of snow. Snow is, after all, precipitation.


Why is the Sun so quiet? As the Sun enters into a period of time known as a Solar Minimum, it is, as expected, showing fewer sunspots and active regions than usual. The quietness is somewhat unsettling, though, as so far this year, most days show no sunspots at all. In contrast, from 2011 – 2015, during Solar Maximum, the Sun displayed spots just about every day. Maxima and minima occur on an 11-year cycle, with the last Solar Minimum being the most quiet in a century. Will this current Solar Minimum go even deeper? Even though the Sun’s activity affects the Earth and its surroundings, no one knows for sure what the Sun will do next, and the physics behind the processes remain an active topic of research. The featured image was taken three weeks ago and shows that our Sun is busy even on a quiet day. Prominences of hot plasmasome larger than the Earth, dance continually and are most easily visible over the edge.

What you see above is something I have copied, with permission, from the Astronomy Picture of the Day, a website that I visit at least once a week (https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180820.html).  The picture of the Sun above, taken by Alan Friedman, show the absence of any sun spots.  Combine that with the fact that the Gray Line is appearing later each morning as we approach the end of Summer and we can understand why our band conditions have been so poor.