The biggest solar storm in five years is battering our planet right now, and may cause disruptions to satellites, power grids and communications networks over the next 24 hours. Two strong solar flares erupted from the surface of the sun late Tuesday (March 6), blasting a wave of plasma and charged particles toward Earth. After speeding through space at 4 million mph, this eruption of material — called a coronal mass ejection (CME) — should be hitting Earth now.
The storm is expected to create strong disruptions due to an odd combination of intense magnetic, radio and radiation emissions, making it the strongest overall solar storm since December 2006, even though the flare that triggered it was not the largest, space weather officials said. The storm may also create a display often referred to as the northern lights that may be visible in our area.