Sun set for solar blast, but NOAA is ready
The NOAA says it's prepared for solar flares on the sun.
February 17th, 2011
12:28 PM ET

Sun set for solar blast, but NOAA is ready

It sounds like a Michael Bay movie - explosions on the sun affecting power grids, airlines, satellites.

But it's real, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says it's about to happen, but it's highly unlikely to cause harm.

Tiny eruptions on the sun called solar flares (a more detailed description here from the BBC) have been happening for a few days, according to the NOAA. The activity signals that the sun, which is relatively quiet, is waking up, doing what one might call more vigorous stretching than it has done in about four years.

The flares could result in a dazzling show of Northern Lights. However, more serious consequences are described in a NOAA release. The flares "can blast Earth with magnetic events that can damage the electrical grid and temporarily damage radio and satellite telecommunications."

"We want people to know this is not, like, the mother of all events," said Joseph Kunches, a space scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. "What it means for the airlines is that they will adjust their routes, they know this is happening. Power grid operators have back-up plans, and they know what's happening."

NOAA has been in close communication with all aspects of industry that could be affected, he said.

Post by:
Filed under: Science • Space
soundoff (498 Responses)
  1. ZOOMER165

    LET IT SNOW BABY!!!!!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Barbara

    The sun, like the ocean is a humongous power beyond any human perception. I don't believe there is any scientist on the face of the earth that knows what is to come from these sun flares; there is no control here with anything so unstable and powerful..when, where and how..we'll never now until it happens.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      Just because you don't know doesn't mean no one else does. If you would care to do some reading instead of guessing, I think your head might just explode when you realize how much really is known.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cosmo

      Yeah, actually they do. There is thing called a solar cycle which runs it's course over 11 years, from solar minimum to solar max and back to minimum. Or sun, which is a main sequence star has been very stable over time, with relatively minute changes in energy output over time. To say that the sun is beyond human perception has no real meaning, and scientist can predict an awful lot about how the sun will act over this 11 year cycle. Of course nobody knows exactly when or where a flare or CME will occur, or if the earth will be in the line of fire, but if the sun wasn't quite stable, that life on earth would be either non existent, or very very different (read an not that complex).

      February 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ZOOMER165

    LOOK AT THE BRIGHTER SIDE, PUT SOME SUN GLASSES ON AND PREPARE TO BE TOASTED OATS.
    AFTER ALL IF IT HAPPENS THERE'S NO WAY TO STOP IT AND YOU'LL HAVE FRONT ROW SEATS....

    February 17, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrien

      I actually find it hard to read your post because of the caps...

      February 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • driving

      what a stupid comment

      February 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shadeseeker

      Yes, let's blame Obama...after all every single solitary thing that is wrong with the entire WORLD is Obama's fault...even if it happened prior to his conception! *sigh*

      February 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • driving

      the caps" i agree"

      February 17, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ZOOMER165

    I SAY LET SUPER OBAMA FIX IT HE CAN SCREW UP ANYTHING

    February 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Well Lets see I think George Bush is better at screwing things up. And he had 8 years to make sure he did a good Job at it.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. outawork

    It's global warming ... oops that can't right

    February 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. outawork

    It's global warming ... oops that can't be right

    February 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JABS

    I AGREE we cannot worry about when the would will fall apart. Really when it starts there is nothing we could do about it so lets all enjoy life and SMILE............................

    February 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jabs

    AGREED we cannot worry about when the would will fall apart. Really when it starts there is nothing we could do about it so lets all enjoy life and SMILE............................

    February 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZOOMER165

      PARTY TIME...

      February 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Greg

    There is no way to know if a big flare will knock out the grid or affect satellites until it happens. Maybe the odds are against a sun flare that big. It happened in 1859 when we didn't rely on satellites, so it's possible now with greater damage since our system works on networks on satellites unlike in 1859. Here's a link to Dr. Michio Kaku's warning and suggestion to the US government.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_TzIUlaQok&w=640&h=390]

      February 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Sorry, that URL pasted wrong :P http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_TzIUlaQok

      February 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      I notice that Dr. Michio Kaku is a sensationalist who lives by publicizing horrible but possible scenarios. However, the vulnerability of everything, sewer lift pumps, water pumps, oil furnace burners, etc. to electric failure puts us in terrible danger from any of many many causes. This is especially true in the very dry states and, in winter, the very cold ones. A responsible government would insist on more standby internal combustion systems for water and sewer services. Our white collar population are nicer people than people who have not lived elsewhere realize, but it is one of the most helpless in the world. Oh yes, this article could have been better researched and written by a 4th grader.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mike

    "Vigorous stretching"

    Please tell your science writers to cease anthropomorphizing nature. It only encourages the idiots.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • JustSaying

      That happened last Friday to that news lady...

      February 17, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DoomsSayer

    Is it true the Sun will become a big red dog next year?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrien

      Only if you call it Clifford

      February 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jackmeghoff

    omg, did you guys hear that Dale Earnhardt died

    February 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bozo

    Auroras are just mindboggling cool watching them dance across the sky... So if you want to see when you should go out then click on this link http://www.solarcycle24.com/oval.htm which has the current auroral oval of activity. When the CME hits, it should push this way down into the u.s. This link is updated every time the polar sat does an orbit, so I imagine a 90 min period. Shoot your pictures and send them in to the I-report crew here..

    February 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. midgetmuncher

    oh no, soon after flare marshal law will be in effect the military will take over the street this is most definitly a national security problem, the sun cannot flare my country..we shall go in and take out this terrorist sun we wont stop until its operations have ceased hahahaha get ready for a sun falre tax

    February 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • voicofrezon

      Please don't preempt the U.S. govt. They will be announcing the "War on Sol" later this week.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Cliff

    I think the most important thing to consider is not whether or not it will affect us. Look at the facts...it is a X-class...X2.2 rating to be exact. Yes we have seen similar kinds of those before but what people fail to realize is the timing. Usually the flares are that powerful around the months of June and July.....it is February. Can someone please explain the notion that the severity of these flares won't grow months from now?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bazoing

      You seem to be saying that the sun is regulated by the position (July) of our one small planet out of 9 some of which are much more massive. However, this article seems to be the product of a journalist in a hurry.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15