Growing solar storm about to smack Earth

2012-03-07 20:49

Washington - An impressive solar flare is heading toward Earth and could disrupt power grids, satellite navigating systems and aircraft flights.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Centre said the sun erupted on Tuesday evening and the effects should start smacking Earth late on Thursday morning, close 05:00 GMT. They say it is the biggest in five years and growing.

The magnetic storm has the potential to trip electrical power grids. Its radio emissions can disrupt global positioning systems to make them less accurate. It also could damage satellites.

Scientists said communication problems and radiation from the storm will probably force aircraft to avoid flying over the north and south poles.

Colourful auroras may be more visible.

"Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past 24 hours," said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The fuss began late on Sunday at an active region on the sun known as 1429, with a big solar flare that was associated with a burst of solar wind and plasma known as a coronal mass ejection that hurtled in Earth's direction.

Another solar flare and CME followed at 00:24 GMT on March 7, setting off a strong geomagnetic and solar radiation storm, both at level three on a five-step scale.

Strongest in years

The solar flares alone caused brief high frequency radio blackouts that have now passed.

But the ensuing space storm will probably give viewers in Central Asia a prime look at the northern lights on Thursday night, in addition to disrupting some of Earthlings' most prized gadgets, Kunches said.

The storm is probably "the strongest one since December 2006," Kunches said, noting, however, that the Earth experienced a stronger radio blackout last August.

"But en masse, if you put it all together with the geomagnetic effects and the solar radiation effects, I would put it on par with one at the end of the last solar cycle which was over five years ago."

Satellites, power girds and even astronauts aboard the International Space Station could be affected by the radiation storm, which may cause them to seek shelter in better protected parts of the orbiting lab as they have in the past.

"We have been talking to the commercial airlines and we know that some have already taken actions to reroute, to go further away from the poles," Kunches added.

And more such storms could follow in the coming days because region 1429 is expected to stay active, he said.

  • Brave - 2012-03-07 21:12

    And we have Ju Ju...

      bvniekerk - 2012-03-07 21:27

      No man, No, now you give the nobody some credit. . . ag sies man. . .

  • nortee - 2012-03-07 22:09

    "Scotty!!!! Why is our power down?" "I don't know Captain!!! I'm giving it all I've got... but I don't... have... the power!!!!"

      jamesrw.wadsworth - 2012-03-08 08:21

      Beam me up Scotty, there is no intelligent life down here (crew member staring at Ju Ju)

  • Tinabtlr - 2012-03-07 22:42

    Whatever. Facebook has managed well in this regard without any solar flare assistance.

  • tilesesb - 2012-03-07 22:44

    Mayan Civilization predictions teething or sheer co-incidence?

      hein.huyser - 2012-03-08 06:38

      Lets not call them civilised, and their predictions were so far of base that it will make you laugh if you know and have studied them. There have been solar flares since forever, and we are still here,Mayans or not. However, there was one prediction I will study carefully if I was you, and on this prediction you can put your money. It simply said that after everyone have heard the Gospel, then the end will come. It might be of interest to you that last year was the first time in the world's recorded history that there was a simultaneous day of prayer in all the nations of the world. Stuff the Mayans, this might get your attention

      Mark - 2012-03-08 06:47

      @hein.huyser - The Mayans believed in their religion just as devoutly as you believe in your religion. So which religion is right. Can I believe in God without being a Christian or a Muslim or will my soul be destined for eternal damnation according to both.

      Gungets - 2012-03-08 07:27

      The biggest recorded coronal mass ejection was in 1859. We lived, no white people got skin cancer, nobody knew it was coming so the whole world did not get to simultaneously pray, there were no tidal waves or mass strandings of whales. If Al Gore had been around we would have had images of little fluffy bunnies dying and cute little polar bears calling their babies on a shrinking piece of ice, and at least 5 South African politicians would have chartered aeroplanes to have a personal look at the effects of the CME on some of the trendy shops in New York. These things have been happening since the dawn of the universe and will happen long after humans have become extinct due to their own stupidity. The mice will rule the world.

      Garth - 2012-03-08 08:49

      At the religious fool above: `civilised': having a high state of culture and development both social and technological. Because they engaged in sacrifice they were not civilised? All religions have engaged sacrifice as a means to appeasing their gods. Why do christians mock other belief structures? Why do christians place their gods' predictions over those of other religions' predictions? Note the plurals, if you please.

      Bobo - 2012-03-08 09:00

      @ Mark : Ther`s no person on earth that can judge you or me or anyone,exept the true God. Jesus did not came to dudge us but to get judged by people.He also didn`t came to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Jesus said (Not me or Hein Huyser) No one can go to the Father exept through Him. The key is believing that Jesus died for all of us. In this God gave us all a free will to believe it or not. I sure don`t have all the awnsers (I doubt anyone..)of the universe,before we die.There is one thing though...I`d rather believe in Jesus who claimed to be the Son of the true God(And died for my sins) than any other religion who denies that.

  • Kathleen - 2012-03-08 06:22

    Will this report be anymore accurate than the cyclone that was going to drench Limpopo, Mpumulanga and KZN?

      Mark - 2012-03-08 06:54

      @Kathleen - I would not sneer too much at people who try and predict future events. There are a multitude of variables that are constantly changing which can effect any future outcomes. You can try and predict a safe trip to the supermarket but probably would not foresee the bus that may take you out.

      Wade - 2012-03-08 08:17

      @Kathleen - Rather be safe than sorry. Why try to mock people that actually try to help you? Dont be so stuck up...

  • Nicola Erasmus - 2012-03-08 06:40

    *sigh* Here we go how close is this thing gonna miss us this time....?

      jamesrw.wadsworth - 2012-03-08 08:26

      With any luck it will hit Ju Ju... Doubt though it will do any damage, you need a brain for that!

  • Rob - 2012-03-08 07:36

    Is it ok to call it a radio BLACK out?

  • Mark - 2012-03-08 08:12

    Well it's raining here in Zambia, been doing so since yesterday afternoon, and thus I guess I'm still on-line either because of that or because it missed, again.

  • Garth - 2012-03-08 08:24

    "Space weather has gotten very interesting over the past 24 hours," said Joseph Kunches,': Hey America! There is no such word as `gotten'!

      Dani - 2012-03-08 08:48

      Garth - 2012-03-08 08:58

      `As a past participles of get, the form `gotten' is not used in British English but is very common in North American English, though even there it is often regarded as non-standard. You were saying . . .?

      Gungets - 2012-03-08 09:26

      Oxymoron - "American English" Oxymoron - (from Greek ???ยต????, "sharp dull") is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Oxymorons appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors such as ground pilot and literary oxymorons crafted to reveal a paradox. Redundancy - "Gotten (sic) very interesting over the past 24 hours". Could hardly have "gotten (sic)" anything over the next 24 hours. That would be "gonna get" in Americanese.

  • Naseema - 2012-03-08 08:38

    While we're on the subject did any of you see a huge ball or light or whatever the thing was in the sky lastnight at around 21:30?It looked like a ball of fire but there was no tail to call it a meteor and it was very visisble.Definitely was not a plane!

      Gungets - 2012-03-08 09:28

      It was the second coming, with headlights. We all got left behind. Even Bobo. How disappointing must that be.

      Bobo - 2012-03-08 10:28

      @ Gungets: At least you know that there was a first coming about 2012 yrs ago..

  • Joey - 2012-03-08 10:13

    it must be the apartheid government in South Africa,

  • Joey - 2012-03-08 10:18

    ask Julius,I am sure he knows who behind this,lol

  • Bmpowered - 2012-03-08 10:40

    The Bible has been chopped and changed so much that it is no more the Word of God but people's interpretation and perception when the religious system was CREATED to suite their needs and not originally what was spoken. Look at the history of the bible. Read Jesus Lived in India by Holger Kirsten - it has everything explained. Anyway how did the weather issue become a religious issue?

  • Joey - 2012-03-08 11:28

    Foetsak you bloody alien,don't come and invade South Africa you agent,you are a small boy,go back to your homeland,Julius see who is coming to S.A.You b****rd.

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