February 17, 2011
The sun.. for me it’s a love hate relationship. On one hand we need it for warmth and I love being in the sun, but on the other hand it is a giant fire ball that spews radiation towards Earth. Today, NASA reported that the sun had the largest solar flare in four years that would be sending radiation that is expected to reach Earth late on Thursday or Friday. Solar flares can disrupt power grids, interfere with high-frequency airline and military communications, disrupt GPS signals, interrupt civilian communications, and bring humans dangerously close to hazardous radiation.
According to Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service:
“The Space Weather Prediction Center is critical to our economy because each time we use a cell phone or pager, check a GPS locator, turn on a light, or take an over-the-pole flight, space weather could have an effect.”
So what is the best thing we can all do as we wait for the solar flares of radiation to rain down on Earth? Not much this week. NASA is now saying that these particular solar flares that were a Valentine’s Day gift from the sun will most likely only produce beautiful sightings of the aurora borealis (or the northern lights), so look to the north and see if you can spot it.
No real scare for now, but if future flares knocked out power, would your business be prepared? It’s a good reminder to think through backup plans.
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