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.

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Filed under: Science • Space
soundoff (498 Responses)
  1. John

    Do you think I can get a better tan over the next few days?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CrispyChris

    I'll get the marshmallows!!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. petermas

    Being born catholic I should believe in heaven and hell... mmm In heaven are all the popes, priests, monks, nuns it's full of nuns (nuns are hairy it's well known that they don't shave,) and angels (they don't even have a gender.) Now you tell me who wants to go there....

    February 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Camar

    "God has nothing to do with science. I think your posting on the wrong article."

    You're kidding right? Where do you think the "laws" and "rules" that make science possible came from?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adrien

      The big bang...or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. To each his own (but it's definitely one or the other).

      February 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jarod

      from the ancient astronaught aliens that brought knowledge to our ancestors.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shadeseeker

      I think I'll just wait for the attack of the killer tomatoes....which will also be blamed on President Obama, of course.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roger

    Wait – by referencing a more explanatory article on solar flares by the BBC, CNN seems to be implying US readers either do not care, or simply could not possibly understand the process. I find this very telling of how news is communicated in this country – as if to say – "mind not the REASONS why things happen, or to try and understand them" just "know they are happening". This is a terrible reflection of the American "public" and the media.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cliff

      I completely agree. But they would rather have people come on the show and give a 10 second segment about themselves in search for a job. I am very disappointed in how the US media treats the priority of news

      February 17, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      I thought it was a rather candid admission that BBC News does science better than CNN. Unlike CNN, BBC News doesn't lump science into the same category as Facebook stories. Unlike CNN, when the BBC talks about some paper, they link you to the paper. Unlike CNN, BBC has writers who are knowledgeable in these areas and they often run additional features apart from just the headlines.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JSL

    Where's my Xanax?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tistrue

    Dear World,

    Please stop freaking out about 2012. Our calendar ends there because some Spanish d-bags invaded our country and we got a little busy ok?

    Sincerely, The Mayans

    February 17, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shadeseeker


      February 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    That's hot.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bazoing

    I seriously doubt that anyone is ready for a big flare. If most of the electric grid goes down in winter hundreds of thousands will die. You cannot run most oil furnaces because they have electric blowers. I seriously doubt that the electric utilities are any better than the water systems. Almost all of them are electric with no diesel backup. No electricity and in less than a day, no water. I have lived many years abroad and I can tell you that America is the best nation in tolerance, and many other things, but as for real disaster preparedness we are the worst. The same fools who allowed this financial mess are in charge of our safety too.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chooo

    i have a theory on why everyone is so scared. more and more people discover the internet and media everyday. go back 10 years ago and you couldn't this much stuff on the end of the world etc. now that everyone has access to so much at the click of a mouse we hear about things much more and faster. whether true or not, the media, internet, and tv are the main reasons 2012 is as big as it is. i find everything really interesting.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    Wouldn't it be great to know all these commenters personally?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. WHA??

    If God made everyone and everything...then who made God?

    February 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • voicofrezon

      God did.

      February 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      He is made out of toast....I saw him in my sandwich. Or was that Jesus. No he was in the curtains. Oh, I don't know.

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

      Hahahaha!! That crossed my mind too :))

      February 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • GOD

      I AM THAT I AM.......oh to hell with this earth thing im outta here

      February 17, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joker

      Man creates his own gods out of fear and ignorance.

      February 17, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shadeseeker

      Saruman? Nah...Gandalf! No...the elves!!!

      February 17, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. scott

    Millions with herpes are going to explode. Don't kiss anyone starting Saturday. It should go away by 2027

    February 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • WHA??


      February 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Belarius Marek

    I just wish civilization would collapse already.. I've got my sword and chain maille ready.

    February 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Forrest Gump

    Must be Al Qaeda!!!

    February 17, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
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