Huge solar storm spawned by massive solar flares causes little disruption

An enormous solar storm of radiation is currently bombarding the planet, but so far it has created few disruptions. The wave of plasma and solar radiation striking Earth was spawned by two massive solar flares thrown off by the sun on Tuesday.

The two powerful solar flares launched a blast wave of plasma and charged particles directly toward Earth. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, travelled at a wild 4 million mph, slamming the planet early Thursday morning. The march 2012 solar storm is the largest in the past five years.

Such huge solar storms can cause disruption to electrical grids, satellites, GPS and communications. Some planes flying in the most vulnerable areas near the poles have been re-routed. So far, however, there has been little disturbance caused by the aftereffects of the huge solar flares.

“We are flying alternate routes for seven flights,” Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, told Several other airlines have re-routed some flights, changed them to lower altitudes or are keeping a close watch in case more changes may be needed.

“So far, the orientation of the magnetic field has been opposite of what is needed to cause the strongest storming,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said in a press statement. “As the event progresses, that field will continue to change.”

Although so far there have been few issues here on Earth due to the solar storm radiation bathing the planet, there is still the potential that could change.

“Such a CME could result in a severe geomagnetic storm, causing aurora at low latitudes, with possible disruption to high frequency radio communication, global positioning systems (GPS), and power grids,” NASA scientists said in a statement.

The march 2012 solar storm has sparked a rise in aurora sightings much farther South than usual, with activity expected to peak on Thursday night. “Skywatchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras,”’s Tony Phillips said.

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Annaka Turner

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