Strong Solar Storm Heading To Earth; May Cause Disturbances In Satellite, Radio Transmissions

WASHINGTON (AP) — A strong solar flare is blasting its way to Earth, but the worst of its power looks like it will barely skim above the planet and not cause many problems.

It has been several years since Earth has had a solar storm of this size coming from sunspots smack in the middle of the sun, said Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. The flare on the sun barely hits the “extreme” on forecasters’ scale, but with its worst effects missing Earth it is only looking “potentially strong” at most when it arrives at Earth as a solar storm, he said.

New calculations from satellite data show that the worst of the energetic particles streaming from the sun likely will go north or above Earth this time, Berger said late Wednesday.

MORE: What Was That Strange Streak Of Light In The Sky Friday Morning?

So while the power grid may see fluctuations because the storm will cause changes in Earth’s magnetic field, it won’t knock power systems off line, Berger said. It may cause slight disturbances in satellites and radio transmissions but nothing major.

“We’re not scared of this one,” Berger said.

The storm is moving medium fast, about 2.5 million miles per hour, meaning the soonest it could arrive is early Friday. But it could be later, Berger said.

Solar storms occur often, especially during peaks in the solar cycle, and don’t directly harm people.

“There’s been a giant magnetic explosion on the sun,” Berger said. “Because it’s pointed right at us, we’ll at least catch some of the cloud” of highly energized and magnetized plasma that can disrupt Earth’s magnetic sphere, which sometimes leads to temporary power grid problems.

On the plus side, sun flares expand the colorful northern lights so people farther south can see them. But don’t expect them too far south, Berger said.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS San Francisco

Get The New CBS SF Bay Area Local App
Got Our Weather App?

Listen Live