Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Solar flare causes magnetic storm

A solar flare heading toward Earth (Nasa)

Airlines and energy suppliers are on alert after an explosion on the surface of the sun led to an enormous magnetic storm which has the power to disrupt power lines, satellite navigation systems and flight paths.

The eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), has led to a "massive amount of solar particles heading towards Earth", which are expected to pass the planet, a spokesman for the Met Office said.

But he added that the phenomenon was likely to go unnoticed by most.

He said: "Part of our role is to advise the Government and relevant industries about the potential impact of events such as this, so we have advised the aviation and energy industries.

"Airlines may re-route planes from near the polar regions as that is where the storm would be most intense and the National Grid could also be affected, but they will take action to limit any risk.

"It should arrive some time this morning and last through the day. In terms of what that means from the public's point of view, there's an increased chance of aurora borealis or Northern Lights being seen if conditions are right and the skies are clear."

Forecasters at MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said most of the UK would be cloudy with some sunny spells.

"There is some low broken cloud at the moment but there could be some clear spells in parts this morning with hazy sunsine," MeteoGroup said.

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