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Scientists: Epic solar storm headed to Earth

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Scientists: Epic solar storm headed to Earth

Power grids, satellites could be affected

  • NASA screengrab

Experts expect the largest solar storm in five years to reach Earth early Thursday, The Associated Press reported.

Airlines are already changing routes away from the magnetic poles and you could lose your GPS for a while, said Joe Kunches, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist.

“It’s hitting us right in the nose,” he said.

It might hurt a little more because the sun has remained relatively peaceful since 2006, said Bill Murtagh, program co-ordinator for the space weather center.

“This is a good-size event, but not the extreme type,” he said.

Still, stargazers will have something to watch for, and it still has the potential to disrupt life on Earth and for astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The sun’s particles are racing toward Earth at 4 million mph.

Astronauts are likely to seek shelter in the safest areas of the ISS. The storm could set off increased Northern Lights activity as far south as the Great Lakes in North America, although scientists predict central Asia will get the best light show.

It could disrupt power girds and satellites, too.

Two solar flares have erupted in the past few days, Kunches said, the most recent of which was earlier today. It triggered a significant geomagnetic and solar radiation storm – about 3 out of 5.

“Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past 24 hours,” Kunches told AFP. “We have been talking to the commercial airlines and we know that some have already taken actions to reroute, to go further away from (Earth’s) poles.”

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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