Intense Solar Storm Set To Strike On Friday The 13th?

The sun generated three powerful solar flares over the last two days, and the effects of the solar storm could be felt on Earth as early as this Friday, the 13th.

Despite the traditionally unlucky date, there’s no cause for alarm, according to Yahoo News. The solar flares, though 10,000 times more powerful than a normal, “background” solar flare, pose no danger to humans. Our technology is another mater, however, and the effects of the solar flares are already being felt in the form of a radio blackout that knocked out high frequency communications on the Earth’s sun-ward side for an hour on Tuesday. Wednesday’s flare, which, like the other two, erupted from the left side of the sun, produced the same effect.

Solar storms are the result of coronal mass ejections, eruptions of radiation and charged particles that speed across space, sometimes striking the Earth’s magnetic field, which protects life on this planet from the solar flares’ damaging effects. When the supercharged plasma strikes the pole regions of the Earth, however, it can play havoc with communications technology, and damage power grids. Solar flares that strike the poles are also responsible for auroras, the “northern lights” common in the higher latitudes. Particularly powerful storms can drive the auroras to lower latitudes, and in extreme cases they can be observed as far south as Texas.

Powerful solar storms can drive the auroras, or "northern lights," far further south than they usually travel

According to AccuWeather.com, the trio of solar flares were all classified as “x-type” flares, the most powerful kind known to science. Wednesday’s flare, which was the weakest of the bunch, registered at the low end of the x-type scale, and accordingly, the storm expected to hit on Friday is anticipated to be minor, at best. The storm will not cause widespread disruption to power and communication grids, although scientists caution that the sun could still eject other flares, potentially in the Earth’s direction.

Strong flares are also particularly dangerous to astronauts and communications satellites, and have national security implications as well. As The Inquisitr previously reported, the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Peter Vincent Pry, made headlines in April when he claimed that the United States was not prepared for an “EMP” attack. “EMP,” or electromagnetic pulse, weapons aim to knock out communications and power grids by affecting them in the same way that solar storms do.

While the conclusions Pry envisioned were dire, you can rest assured that the solar storm set to strike the Earth on Friday will be nowhere near that powerful.

[Images via AccuWeather and Wikipedia]