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Solar storm assaults earth

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Thu, Mar 08 2012 3795 Views
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Airlines and energy suppliers are on alert as the largest solar storm in five years heads toward Earth, threatening to disrupt power grids, satellite navigation and plane routes.

The storm - the largest in five years - will bombard the Earth's magnetic field throughout March 8. The effects will be most intense in polar regions, and aircraft may be advised to change their routings to avoid these areas.

The eruption on the surface of the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), has triggered an avalanche of solar particles heading towards Earth although the phenomenon was likely to go unnoticed by most.

The forecaster has advised airlines that they may reroute planes from near the polar regions where the radiation caused by the storm is likely to be most intense, while energy suppliers have been warned that the National Grid could also be affected.

The solar storm will continue until the morning of March 9, although further eruptions may follow.  In 1989, a strong solar storm knocked out the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving six million people without power.

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