Largest magnetic storm of the season to strike this weekend

On Thursday July 12, 2012 the sun let loose with a huge solar flare and coronal mass ejection. The X1.4 class solar flare emerged from a sunspot in active region 1520 at 12:11Pm EDT. 

The flare unleashed a staggering amount of energy roughly equivalent to a billion hydrogen bombs. That energy is now headed toward the Earth at a blistering 850 miles per second.

Solar scientists are expecting a moderately severe magnetic storm when the CME strikes the Earth’s magnetic field this weekend.  Alex Young of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center stated, “This could produce auroras as far south as northern California and Alabama [and] into central UK and Europe or southern New Zealand.”

As previously discussed on this blog, geomagnetic storms can disrupt electrical and communication systems that are vital to the operation of data centers and other mission critical facilities.

Solar scientists warn that this magnetic storm could lead to intermittent satellite/radio navigation problems, surface charging on satellites and power grid fluctuations.

AT&T Announces New Construction in NC Data Center Cluster

On Wednesday, AT&T announced plans to build a 900,000 square foot data center facility in Cleveland County, NC. 

I’ve posted a number of times on activity in the North Carolina data center cluster.  AT&T will be joining a distinguished roster of data centers that have decided to set up shop in North Carolina.  The list includes; 

  • T5 Data Centers (Wholesale data center provider)
  • Wipro Infocrossing (Managed services and cloud provider)
  • Disney
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Apple
  • Cisco
  • EMC
  • American Express
  • NetApp
  • IBM

Why all the data center construction in North Carolina?  A number of factors make this area a prime location.

  • Utility incentives friendly to data centers
    • Electricity is cheap, cheap, cheap!  (3.9-4.6 cents/kw-hr)
    • Electrical grid is reliable with multiple substation feeds available
    • Forward thinking utility provider Duke Energy
      • Solid long term plan for nuclear and renewable energy production
      • Industry leader in deployment of “green energy” and “smart grid” technologies
      • Waived utility connection fees
    • Fresh water is plentiful and inexpensive
    • Existing civil infrastructure require only small inprovements to support data centers (roads, city water, county water, waste water etc…)
    • Plenty of fiber. (AT&T, RST, PalmettoNet, TWC, DukeNet, Zayo & others)
  • Climate and environment
    • Cool climate is favorable to “free cooling” strategies
    • Area is geologically stable and not prone to earthquakes
    • Area is not prone to weather related natural disasters
    • Plenty of sunshine for solar.  (Apple recently announced a 20MW solar farm for their Maiden, NC data center)
  • NC government incentives friendly to data centers
    • Generous tax breaks
    • Waiving of building, zoning and development permit fees

Congrats to our friends in NC!  Another amazing win.