For the average human on earth, a solar storm is no more than an interesting story in a science magazine. But a strong storm – like the one that started bombarding the Earth several days ago – can have adverse effects on satellite communications, polar-flying planes and astronauts in space, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.
The biggest concern, the report said, is radiation, which typically follows solar flares like the one that occurred about 11 p.m. on Sunday.
Space.com reported that the radiation is expected to hit the Earth in three stages through Wednesday. The first step is electromagnetic radiation, followed by radiation in the form of protons.
Finally, the coronal mass ejection hits – that’s the plasma from the sun itself – and can cause the most noticeable problems on Earth, such as interference with electrical grids and disruptions in the northern lights patterns.
NOAA has already alerted airlines to re-route, if possible, North Pole routes to avoid possible interference from the CME to High frequency radio communications.
In 1989, a solar storm caused a massive grid outage in Quebec. Today’s storm is believed to be the strongest since 2005, but will not reach severe levels, scientists said. They believe the brunt of the storm’s effects will go north of the Earth.
—ANGELA DAIDONE, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM