Effects of solar flare could be seen Thursday

March 07, 2012

Some communications could be interrupted by the largest solar flare in five years races toward Earth. As KJZZ’s Terry Ward reports from Phoenix, the flares have the potential to disrupt power grids, global positioning systems and airplane flights.

TERRY WARD: The sun erupted Tuesday evening, and the effects should start affecting Earth sometime Thursday. Steve Mutz, professor of astronomy at Scottsdale Community College, says charged particles can interfere with satellite transmissions.

STEVE MUTZ: Those satellites have to communicate with Earth and their signals can be disrupted by the influence of the charged particles with the Earth.

WARD: Power companies around the world have been alerted for possible outages. In 1989, a strong solar storm knocked out the power grid in Quebec, Canada causing 6 million people to lose power. Although with plenty of advance notice, such outages are considered unlikely.

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