Updated: February, 2015
After onset, it can take 8 minutes for a solar flare to effect half the Earth with no warning.
There are two basic events that occur almost daily on the sun. A solar flare or CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) are two separate events that can occur independent of each other or together at the same time.
Weather on Earth travels as measured in miles or kilometers per hour. Effects of a solar flare travel at the velocity of light which is about 186,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second roughly the same as lightning.
Solar winds travel at variable speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second. Similar to Earth winds carrying dust, snow, or rain, solar winds carry charged particles thrown into space. They impact Earth if the CME is broadcast in that direction. The speed of the wind is a function of coronal holes in the solar surface.
Major solar flares and CME's can effect our global technological infrastructure at the same time. No other major disaster, including nuclear weapons, have that capability. It easy to understand why the sun is similar to a giant military plasma weapon.
For more information about Space Weather and links to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) and a 24 minute information video (Attack of the Sun), visit the Help File window of this website.
SWEOC.org is comprised of Amateur Radio operators, citizen and professional scientists, Emergency Managers, and those dedicated to building the Space Weather knowledge base in support of the SWPC efforts. SWEOC is not a function of or connected with the SWPC, NOAA, or the NWS. SWEOC also supports private sector research and development in the construction of a more resilient National Infrastructure under Presidential Direction.
The SWEOC.org website is divided into two user groups. Those users with portable electronic devices (PED"s) and wide screen Emergency Operation Center (EOC) monitors and projection systems. The webpages were constructed to support as many web browsers and graphic adaptors as possible. Over a period of time the webpages will be modified to support a more user friendly experience based on feedback.
The pages are designed to work with several web browser tools. Testing shows that browser keyboard function keys overcome most browser and video graphics adapter differences. Usage of the website on note pad devices seem to be free of most problems. Refer to the Quick Notes page in the Help files section for more information.
Users that interact with the webpages from a cell phone should for the short term future, use the low resolution website (default). Some images and files are very large in size and may not download rapidly to the device or function properly.
Both low and high resolution main pages contain 5 sub windows that act as navigation bars. Each page can be displayed independently of the main page by selecting the page in the Help Files window. All pages on the website's can be bookmarked for future reference. These pages do not have auto refresh. With the exception of the Help Files Page, the sub pages can be displayed on one wide screen page using the All Page mode in the Help Files.
Use manual refresh to update all pages that contain thumbnail images.
Most pages (Reports, Images, Plots, Communication Analysis) on this website auto refresh every 60 seconds.
Most images, plots, and reports are time stamped in UTC (GMT). The time stamps on each webpage are calculated from your system clock. If you wish to synchronize your system with NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) refer to the About Time Help file. Print this file (PDF or MS Word) and coordinate this process with your system administrator if required. The MS Word file can be used for storing update notes on your system.
Solar Snapshot Report on Current Conditions
The Solar Snapshot report brings together a set of reports, images, and plots to provide an initial assessment of an event in progress within a few seconds. This assessment will show the event type and the latest forecast details. In addition, the images can provide a visual cue of the event origin and radio frequency disturbances associated with the event.
Further information for this report is located the the Help Files section. This report is subject to modification as new technology becomes available.
For several years various sources have developed text based reports of many observations and measurements. Some of the reports contain forecasts and analysis of past and future Space Weather and Solar conditions. Other reports describe Earth based measurements and Active Alerts. Most of these reports are used to communicate with military and space organizations. Reports are text on HTML similar to this page and are still in the 80 column format used for mechanical paper dot matrix printers, teletypes, and FAX systems..
The Help Files page contains a document describing these reports and their content. The SWPC also has developed information and links to these reports. The link to these are on the Help Files page and on the SWPC Website.
Latest Solar Images
All of the solar images linked to on this website are provided to give a visual indication to solar activity. These images are provided by both satellite and ground based solar telescopes. All satellite systems can be disabled during strong solar events. Thumbnail images will indicate which systems are operational. It takes about 8 minutes for the light to reach Earth orbiting satellites or ground observatories and can take several additional minutes or hours for the satellite system to process after reception. Each processed image is time stamped for reference.
Spacecraft systems contain protection from X-ray and bright solar eruptions. The onboard telescopes may during these events shut down until the event ends which creates loss of images and possibly some data. Loss of satellite images and data can occur during strong electron or proton events from a CME.
Most spacecraft periodically perform routine maintenance, calibration, or are out of view of the sun and ground receiving stations due to their Earth orbits. This would create a condition of loss of image or data. An example of this is the Solar Dynamics Observatory which periodically pitches left, right, up, and down to point the telescopes to dark space in order to calibrate the EVE system that creates loss of all images for a few hours. The solar wind can also effect satellite orientation for short periods of time. Usually, these are announced on the provider website.
Links to information about the existing and future Satellite fleet can be found in the Help Files section for that system provider and near the image thumbnails.
Latest Data Plots
All of the data plots and graphs linked to on this website are provided to give a measurement indication to solar activity. These data are provided by both satellite and ground based observatories. As with images, satellite systems data can be disabled during strong solar events. Thumbnail images may not indicate which systems are operational. It takes about 8 minutes for the light to reach Earth orbiting satellites or ground observatories and can take several additional minutes or hours for the satellite system to process after reception. Each processed graph is time stamped for reference.
Most data plots use Auto Scaling. This refers to the unit of measurement and to the chart range value displayed on the left hand side of the chart which can change up or down depending on the data. The chart appearance will change if the amplitude of the current measurement exceeds the chart limits or range.
For more information on Data Plots, refer to the Help Files section.
Solar events and space weather can have both a positive or negative effect on communication reliability. Multiple sunspots on the visible side of the sun during daytime can have a positive effect on some radio bands. Solar flares on the other hand can cause broadband communication blackouts of all forms that last from minutes to several hours or days.
The main purpose of this website is to rapidly identify usable frequency bands for emergency communications. Using images and data to access conditions will allow emergency planners to select the best course of action. Solar events can effect different geographical regions in a different manner. Most of the existing data will indicate a general set of conditions.
Under development is a new band analyzer that will be available to EOC's and other users to aid in evaluating local conditions. The current band spread and frequencies under development are listed on this page. The bands will display a link to a realtime plot for that band when operational.
For further information on this section, refer to the Help Files Section.
Documentation and Help Files
This page provides links and website help files
Sign Up for SWPC Alerts and Warnings
SWPC Alerts and Warnings afford the opportunity to practice and become familiar with the data and challenges of an actual large scale event. In the Help Files section, print and use the Event Examples page to view how events may appear in images and plots.
Please use the Contact Us option for direct feedback. We will respond as quickliy as possible.