March 8th, 2012
05:08 PM ET

Solar storms causing few problems on Earth

Geomagnetic and solar radiation storms hitting Earth after Tuesday's solar flares may not be as big as advertised, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Thursday.

Together, such storms can affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and power grids, but none of these problems has been reported, even as the leading edge of the sun's coronal mass ejections from Tuesday hit Earth on Thursday morning, scientists said.

The geomagnetic storm has reached only G1 intensity on a scale from G1 (weak) to G5 (extreme), and the solar radiation storm is an S3 (strong) on a similar 1-to-5 scale, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said. Earlier, NOAA had predicted a G3/S4 event.

Still, the solar radiation storm has prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at a higher than normal radiation risk.

"Today we are using alternate routes for seven westbound flights to Asia. We will monitor possible solar impact to the operation in making decisions for tomorrow and future dates," Delta Air Lines spokesman Anthony Black said.

American Airlines put three high-polar flights - from the U.S. to Japan and China - on lower-altitude routes on Thursday, spokesman Ed Martelle said. And United Airlines rerouted four flights to Asia, according to United spokesman Mike Trevino.

The geomagnetic storm still could give earthlings quite a show Thursday night. The storm is expected to produce auroras, or northern lights, that may be visible as far south as the northern United States, said Physicist Joseph Kunches with the Space Weather Prediction Center.

Tuesday's solar eruptions included two solar flares - intense bursts of radiation from the sun - and two coronal mass ejections, which are releases of gas and magnetic fields from the outer sun. The coronal mass ejections reached Earth on Thursday.

Kunches likened the challenge of forecasting the strength of the storms to hitting a major league pitcher's fastball.

"Like a hitter, we try (to) figure out if the pitch is coming down the middle of the plate or is low and outside," Kunches said. "The problem is, the pitch comes from the sun from 93 million miles away."

Forecasters also try to figure out which way the particles ejected from the sun are oriented, which has major implications on how strong the event will be.

"Like a curveball, the orientation can change. We didn't see the spin with this event," Kunches said.

He added that the event is not over, and the effect of the solar radiation could increase if it becomes better aligned later Thursday. By Friday morning, the solar storm should be diminishing.

The sunspot that produced the storms, however, still will be facing Earth through the weekend, and further emissions could bring new storms to the planet.

soundoff (411 Responses)
  1. tigarjane

    a polar filp is already believed to be in progress, the magnetic field has been weakening for the past decade. a pole flip can happen suddenly or over a short period of time as time goes. Women can do both cook and talk science, and we should be more worried about the comet that will be as scientist say Threading the Eye of the Needle on 12/21/12. There is a chance it could hit the earth! And also Yellowstone Super Volcano has been rising . So anything could happen. Or nothing at all . We will just have to wait and see.

    March 9, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  2. David Banner

    Gamma radiation, not again!!!

    March 9, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  3. lOLsaod

    i'm disapointed...the solar storm was a joke i was expecting something to actually happen i swear these people over exagerate way to much....-.-' my mom was flipping out last night

    excuse my spelling a little tired atm still.

    March 9, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  4. What a ripoff

    Where's my Nothern Lights that I was promised??? I demand a refund!

    March 9, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  5. francis


    March 9, 2012 at 4:27 am |
  6. Libera7or

    Go outside and check out the auroras if you can.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  7. RealityBetraysUs

    Solar flares do have the potential to create havoc with electrical devices. We already know this from modern history. The interesting thing is modern warfare weaponry duplicates this effect (solar flares), with the EMF pulse weapons. designed to disable and take out key defenses by disabling the active electronic circuits in vehicles such as fighter aircraft. Case in point ABC news had a defector scientist who escaped from Russia with one of their suitcase EMF pulse weapons. They proved how they could disable not only a modern corvette automobile, so that it would not even start, but also a Cobra helicopter with all the support weapons systems on board. modern America's military is built on solid state devices like transistors and silicon devices. These are vulnerable unless protected by shielding materials from electromagnetic pulse attacks. The interesting thing about Russian fighter aircraft is that they still use old fashioned "electron tube technology" like waht our TV's were in the 50's. We might think that the Russians are old fashioned or "out of date and behind the times, but tube technology will still work during an electro-magnetic pulse attack like a pulse weapon or a nuclear war (bombs), our electronics based on silicon chip technology may survive such an attack. Any unshielded electronics could be disabled or shut down temporarily or permanently if damaged. I would not bet the farm on any defensive weapons that were not shielded during a nuclear attack, or EMF pulse weapon being deployed against us. The best way to protect those unshielded devices is turn them off, until there is no longer pulse radiation present. Otherwise let it fry and but a new radio or TV later. Thank God sunspot activity is at such a low level it does not do permanent damage like the military weapons.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:21 am |
  8. juice

    Nobody actually tracks how much radiation soaked during long flight for passengers? Not just solar storm, but anyday there are always background cosmic radiation.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  9. CosmicCat64

    We've been losing our power here in the state of NJ all day and all night. Not for long periods of times though, but think it's due to these so called solar flares........

    March 8, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • or

      try paying your electric bill.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:10 am |
  10. Dave's Pal

    Fix roof while sun still shining prior to raining.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  11. wavejump1100

    and as usual, nothing at all happened. 🙁

    March 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  12. Dandy

    So should we take the day off tomorrow or not ?? 😉

    I could use some radiation after hiding out all winter.

    Pass the Coppertone please!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  13. Serg

    I'm an electrical engineer who has briefly studied the effects of solar flares on our technology and power grids, and I'm amazed at how CNN has all their idiot commentators trying to explain irrelevant stuff but nobody bothered to explain how the flares affect earth.
    By the way, even if the flare was strong enough to take down our grid, there are several stages of protection designed to isolate any damages caused. Which means just a few days without power, not the end of civilization.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Papa Smurf

      Dude, most Americans are to stupid to survive severals days without electricity. No iPhones, no internet, no American Idol... there will be riots in the streets...

      March 9, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  14. liz48

    To some of us who think differently:-)) God answers prayer. Get a person who knows how to pray to your disaster areas and see the difference. Jesus calmed the storm – He showed us we can have control over the elements!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • liz48

      This is not referring to religious folk in churches or denominations.. Just the folk who know Jesus and His Authority...

      March 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Dandy

      Yeah, so how effective were the prayers that the family was making in the doublewide in southern Indiana when the tornado came along and killed all 5 of them??

      Tell me. Where they praying wrong, they didn't truly know Jesus like you do. Explain please.
      BTW, when was the last time you talked to Jesus and he talked back to you?

      March 8, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
      • RealityBetraysUs

        In response to :Dandy
        Yeah, so how effective were the prayers that the family was making in the doublewide in southern Indiana when the tornado came along and killed all 5 of them??
        First of all the bible says we are not to fear the first death,because we all are destined to die without God's grace and mercy because of man's original sin Adam and Eve, The only man to defeat death in the Bible was Jesus and possibly enoch becuase God took him to heaven before he could die a natural death. The bible says we should fear the 2nd death which is eternal separation from God and heaven, in which you will spent eternity in hell if you have not known Jesus as your savior while on this earth. If that whole family died and they were born again Christians then they are now rejoicing in heaven with God. If they did not make a free will choice to accept Jesus as their savior the bible tells us they by their own choice are in Hell. YOU CAN NOT EXPECT THIS WORLD OR LIFE TO BE PERFECT! God tells us since Adam and Eve committed the original sin that all of humanity has been forced to live in an imperfect fallen world., Many innocent people have died in previous history due to wars and evils of nations and mankind's follish collective choices. It is the same today!. Most people do not realize the number of deaths caused by not only the USA's modern energy weapons and tampering with the worlds weather, but Russia also has these same high tech energy weapons. Many so-called "natural disasters are now being caused by man's tampering with "mother nature". Go to and do a search on energy weapons or Haarp, giant telsa coil built by Russia, and the fact that Telsa before he died sent most of his plans and ideas for weapons to both US and Russian countries for development , because during WWII the Russians were allies of the USA. Today they not only have developed these weapons but deploying them with the knowledge of the general public. We all live in a fallen world, repent and turn to Jesus and salvation before it is too late.You do have a choice, but you are NOT GOD. You mistake is in not recognizing man's true fallen state in this world. Evil exists only because a loving all powerful God wanted each person to have a free will and choose to worship God of their own free accord. Evil manifest in the world is a result of God allowing you to have free will. This life is not the end but the beginning. Eternal life is what you should focus on, this life is but a vapor. Disagree tell me where you find yourself 100 years from now.

        March 9, 2012 at 1:46 am |
  15. s2sta

    Reblogged this on Bite me.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  16. old guy

    Peh you kids. Back in my day we would have Gamma-ray bursts.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  17. John

    They said no affects but jezz my internet and phones all has been acting up all week. Alot of other people said same thing. Plus the bank lost satellite link when I was trying to do deposit today... Crazy stuff... 🙂

    March 8, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  18. maxp0wer

    NOA over-estimated something? Impossible!

    March 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  19. Margarette

    Really.. Do you guys know, what time is gonna happen? so, i can be in my bed...LOLLLLL

    March 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  20. dk

    Who cares when it's the end of the world, just enjoy the life you have. You are most likely to die from something else besides these doomsday prophecies. btw at least learn the difference between "loose" and "lose" before you perish as an American. And no, "alot" is no where in the English dictionary, it's not a word... it's "a lot" go buy a dictionary you contributors.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  21. jinks

    william ur comments r funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  22. dk

    I was a freelance journalist for a Gannett owned newspaper company and we had editors who actually did their job. It seems like a lot of online editors are too busy blogging on their social media to give full attention to the article they're assigned to edit.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  23. Alvin Mason Reffitt Jr

    End of the World on the date of 21st December 2012, Friday at 6:10 am. Beleive it Or Not!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Not

      I choose not believe that. But if you do can you send me a legal doc that I get all of your money on Dec 22nd?

      March 9, 2012 at 5:12 am |
  24. mikey_t

    Repeat after me... Comet Kahoutek.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Repeat after ME

      Ooo Wha Tagoo Siam.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  25. curt

    Are we sure the effect isn't increased rates of cancer?

    March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • curt

      I think its amazing how much bigger the sun is then the earth and to thin it will keep getting bigger as it burns out of fuel and eventually its diameter will fry earth.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
      • mikey_t

        Which is why all the conservation efforts in the world are doomed to eventual failure.

        March 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • curt

      I think its amazing how much bigger the sun is then the earth and to think it will keep getting bigger as it burns out of fuel and eventually its diameter will fry earth.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
      • curt

        Hopefully the "aliens" from the Summerian tablets are coming back to help humanity with that eventually or it don't look good... LOL

        March 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  26. cpc65

    Was hoping I could see the Northern lights where I live in Southern New England, but NOOOO. It's mostly cloudy out.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  27. cpc65

    Well at least we didn't lose pow.................................

    March 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  28. Jen

    I respectfully request the networks to please find a poet or artist to describe the phenomenon next time...spit, lugee? Our mysterious, beautiful, wondrous, and dangerous, universe deserves better!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • SB

      Or perhaps an actual scientist.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  29. aj

    These scientists keep crying wolf, and one day we're gonna get wiped off because we did nothin to stop it.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • JeramieH

      What exactly could we do?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
      • cpc65

        Build a giant Sun blocker like C. Montgomery Burns.

        March 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
      • mikey_t

        Break out the SPF 150,000 lotion.

        March 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
      • Dandy

        Put on your Tin hat of course! 😉

        March 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
  30. Donna Baker

    I beleve this is true but I dont no way the weathers been acting and the news it talks about it in the bible thay say we can not pradicked what day doombsday is but I think it already started

    March 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • JeramieH

      I'll give you a hint, all of this stuff has been going on for thousands of years already.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
      • SB

        Billions, not thousands.

        March 9, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • SB

      What do you mean you "believe this is true"? Solar flares and CMEs do not require your "belief". You can watch them happen with your own eyes, courtesy of several satellites that watch the sun.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  31. Jay

    What's up with the ethereal ambient music? Funny.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  32. Sarah

    Does this event mean we may see more Northern Lights?

    March 8, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  33. the dude

    Meanwhile Hillary is going over flash cards with Obama so that he will know what a "solar storm" is. That way, he can apologize for it later.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  34. purna prasad phuldel

    there is less chance to effect the earth, even it take long time to approach to the earth suddenly nothing goes any wrong 1. earth can escape solar flame. 2. solar flame just floating around the universe.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  35. REALLY


    March 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  36. Gold Finger

    Really? Bad breath and luggies? Why don't you just say radiation and particles. Do you really believe every one is stupid to the point that they don't know the difference? Better yet, why don't you educate the ones that don't know instead of reverting to caveman speak.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  37. Charli

    Learn to spell please. It's losing, not loosing, in the 2nd paragraph.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Jacki

      Sweety, it was spelled correctly.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Laura

      Ummmm, you're totally wrong. Losing is the proper word in this case.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      Haha, I hope that you're kidding. Honestly though, people misspell that word so often that I wouldn't be surprised if you're serious.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
      • JamieIRL

        Oh, they actually corrected it. So much for that stuff that I said.

        March 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
      • Speeler

        I am losst. Losing? Loosing?

        March 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • informedunionvoter

      Noebudee karz.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • graze

        why dont u just mind the info's that it says not how it spelled..people will really look for the mistakes

        March 9, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • rtbrno65

      Loosing is the British spelling, like how they spell color "colour" and so on.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • Mike

      Friday March 9th 2012, 03-09-2012

      Internet has been slowed to a near grinding halt except the back channels which are in fact slowed but still functioning. Wireless communication is no longer able to recieve data entry from satelites positioned beyond the atmosphere of Earth.

      Like I say, if the power goes down and everything goes black, find a compass and see if the magnetic poles reversed, if so we are in good luck because all we would have to do is switch a battery upside down and backwards to power a flash light. If the magnetic poles are mearly shifting slowely or no change is visible on true north to true south then we are in for a bumpy ride. Only time will tell if the lights turn back on. Begin to survive without electricity. Read a book, take a nap, walk to work, do your job without electricity. Thats an order.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:41 am |
      • Joe

        Just to set the record straight, batteries are electric, not magnetic. They work on electron flow (current). Electrons flow from a negative to a positive charge provided by the batteries and the resulting current powers your device. SO if the poles shift, please don't flip the batteries in your flashlights or anything else. They won't work unless you rewire them.

        March 16, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
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