As the largest solar storm in five years unleashes a surge of charged particles at 4 million mph over the next several days, its solar flares could affect satellites, electric power grids, air travel and your gadgets. Here’s a rundown of how the solar storm could affect you.
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, GPS satellites could be disrupted by radiation from flares and increased solar activity, making it more likely your GPS will send you in the wrong direction.
Eergy generated by the solar flares could damage electrical equipment and interrupt communication. A large solar flare in 1989 blacked out the grid of the entire province of Quebec for 12 hours, according to NASA.
Some travelers have already experienced some disruption as routes have been reconfigured to avoid communication problems. However, fliers are only enduring about 15 minutes of extra flight time.
While your gadgets may be on the fritz the next few days, people on earth will be safe. Our planet’s magnetic field will repel much of the radiation generated by the sun storm. However, as the sun’s activity cycle peaks in 2013, we might have to put up with several possible tech interruptions over the next year.
For rural Wisconsinites, this is also an opportunity to see northern lights that will peak Thursday evening. Auroras are expected as far as the Great Lakes region, though our sky’s full moon might make viewing more difficult.