"The largest solar storm in five years is racing toward Earth, threatening to unleash a torrent of charged particles that could disrupt power grids, GPS and airplane flights."
The sun erupted Tuesday evening, and the effects should start smacking Earth between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. EST Thursday (0600 GMT and 1000 GMT), according to forecasters at the U.S. government's Space Weather Prediction Center. They say the storm, which started with a massive solar flare, is growing as it speeds outward from the sun. . ."This is a good-size event, but not the extreme type," said Bill Murtagh, program coordinator for the space weather center.The solar storm is likely to last through Friday morning, but the region that erupted can still send more blasts our way, Kunches said. He said another set of active sunspots is ready to aim at Earth right after this.But for now, scientists are waiting to see what happens Thursday when the charged particles hit Earth at 4 million mph (6.4 million kph).NASA solar physicist Alex Young added, "It could give us a bit of a jolt." But he said this is far from a super solar storm.