Rapidly moving fields during the “Carrington Event” of 1859 induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications. In fact, telegraph systems all over Europe and North America went haywire and, in some cases, telegraph operators were literally shocked as sparks were flying and telegraph paper was often set on fire. Some systems actually continued to work despite being disconnected from their power supplies as aurora-induced electric currents still allowed messages to be transmitted. Skies all over Earth erupted in red, green and purple auroras – even in tropical locations like Cuba, Jamaica, El Salvador, the Bahamas and Hawaii. The auroras were so bright over the Rocky Mountains that their glow awoke gold miners who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora’s light.
Meteorologist Paul Dorian