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Solar Storm Hits Earth, No Reports of Damage

Published by: Andy on 8th Mar 2012 | View all blogs by Andy
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Solar Storm Hits Earth, No Reports of Damage

A wave of solar flares battered Earth's magnetic field on Thursday, but the effects on power grids and GPS systems were minimal.  The solar storm was one of the worst in years to hit the planet, but scientists say that it was headed in a direction that causes the least amount of problems.  Several hours after the storm hit, officials reported that they have not received any reports of issued with technology that is susceptible to interference from heightened solar activity.

According to a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration's Space Weather Prediction Center, a massive solar flare shot out from the sun on Tuesday night, expanding as it raced toward the Earth at 4 million miles an hour.  The wave of charged particles hit the Earth's magnetic field at about 6 AM ET on Thursday morning with about 10 times the power of normal solar winds that hit the planet.

The biggest concern for scientists involves the solar storm's effect on power grids, which can be disabled.  In 1989, a similar solar storm hit the planet and knocked out a power grid in the Canadian territory of Quebec, leaving 6 million people without power for days.  While we appear to have been spared the worst from Thursday's solar flare, scientists say that there is a possibility that more flares may occur in the coming days, and into next year.

Thursday's storm is part of the Sun's standard cycle, which lasts 11 years and is expected to peak next year.  Not all of the effects of these storms are harmful, as the charged particles excite particles within the Earth's atmosphere, causing the colorful auroras to expand in luminosity and size.  Thursday's storm is expected to have such an impact on the Northern Lights, with the effect being most visible Thursday evening.  Scientists say the Northern Lights will be visible as far south as the Great Lakes region, though the full moon will make them harder to see.



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