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Friday, August 23, 2013

Solar storm approaching Earth

The Sun has targeted Earth this week, ejecting a pair of solar storms our direction. The coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were blasted from our local star over the 21st and 22nd of August, and are expected to arrive sometime today through tomorrow. Scientists believe there is a potential for interruptions in satellite and radio signals, though widespread power-grid issues are not considered likely.

This pair is the latest CMEs to threaten our electronic infrastructure over the past few years, due to the sun approaching its peak in the current solar weather cycle. These cycles, 11 years in length, are helping researchers better understand the ebbs and flows of solar flares; they assert we should reach our zenith for this cycle later this year, at which point solar activity should begin to wane. As to the immediate situation, scientists are forecasting a 30% to 40% chance of 'active' geomagnetic storms over the next 48 hours.

The biggest solar storm ever recorded occurred in 1859. Known as the Carrington Event, it caused widespread issues with telegraph lines, sparking structural fires and shocking telegraph operators. The most serious recent storm happened in March 1989, which took down an entire power-grid in Canada, leaving 6 million residents in Quebec without power for nine hours.

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