No Thunderstorms but Solar Storms Possible

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And you thought the sun only threw heat rays at us?  Not so.  In fact the sun throws all kinds of rays at the Earth, and the storms that could hit the planet in the coming days, weeks and months could cause real damage.

To explain, the sun has entered a very active cycle.  The type that comes once about every 11 years.  This time around things look especially active and so far the sun has not disappointed.  When storms develop on the sun they producing what’s known as Coronal Mass Ejections.  These CME’s can hurl a massive amount of dangerous radiation towards the Earth.  Fortunately our atmosphere protects us from serious damage, but the biggest CME’s can cause damage to electrical grids, satellites and other sensitive equipment such as telecommunications.

These CME’s are rated by letter, the strongest storms are rated as M’s or X-class.  M-class flares have increased in frequency and now we’re seeing even strong X-class flares.  One last week produced a massive storm, but it did not make a direct impact on Earth.

Although still a bit low, the threat will remain for at least another year if not longer.  The photo above demonstrates why.  This shows a volatile storm on the sun that is as wide as 12 earths side by side.  If a strong storm is fired towards the earth, it could have a major impact.  In fact, a solar storm was blamed for knocking out power to millions in Canada back in 1989.   And imagine, that was before the advent of all the great electronic gadgets we take for granted today.

Will that happen again?  Maybe, all we can do is wait and see what the sun throws our way.

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