Solar Flare Storm Hits Earth With Protons from the Sun

Solar Storm May Cause Electronic Mayhem Today, Or Not

Solar Storm May Cause Electronic Mayhem Today, Or Not

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March 8 2012 3:30 PM

Solar Storm May Cause Electronic Mayhem Today, Or Not

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(In a screen grab taken from a handout timelapse sequence provided by NASA / SDO, a solar spot in the centre of the Sun is captured from which the first X-class flare was emitted in four years on February 14, 2011.)

Image by NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory via Getty Images

No matter what your energy source is, the sun’s targeting Earth today and we might all suffer some short circuits.

The planet is currently being hit by a huge solar storm of charged particles that could leave our high-tech gadgets high and dry. Triggered by two solar flairs, the largest event of its kind in 5 years will pound earth all day.

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The upside? Known as a Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME, it could make for one heck of a light show, with Auroras Borealis and Australis that may extend well past the polar latitudes.

But this big, gassy solar burp speeding toward us at more than 4 million miles an hour has a gnarly downside. The geomagnetic storm might send modern technology like satellites, electrical grids, and communications systems back to the Stone Age. 

It might be a good day to take the stairs, ride your bike, and switch your GPS with an old-fashioned map.

Video produced by Paca Thomas

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.