Solar Storm to Hit Earth This Week

Could impact communications, GPS
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2011 10:36 AM CDT
Light from the aurora borealis fills the Big Dipper constellation in the early hours Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, above trees near Nikiski, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, M. Scott Moon)

(Newser) – If your GPS stops working in the next few days, blame solar storms. Following three large explosions from the sun recently, US government scientists are expecting a larger solar event this week—and warn that satellite, telecommunications, and electric equipment, including GPS, could be disrupted. "The magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level," says one space weather scientist.

In addition to potentially disrupting communications, this week's solar storms could produce an aurora visible in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Reuters notes that a 1989 solar storm took down a power grid in Canada, but disruptions that major are rare. This storm should be relatively minor in comparison, likely "a two or three out of five on the NOAA Space Weather Scale," says the scientist.

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