The Effects of Sun Storms - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/29/03

The Effects of Sun Storms

It happens about every 11 years or so: storms on the surface of the sun, sometimes referred to as solar flares. And there's one taking place today. According to experts, even thought these storms are nothing new, sometimes they're big enough to cause problems here on Earth.

"What happened most recently is a big mass of matter was ejected from the sun, high energy proton and electrons that when they hit the Earth's magnetic field causes disruptions in electronic equipment," explained geophysicist Chuck Watson. "Things like pipelines, things like power transmission lines, but the main impact is with satellites. A lot of people don't realize how dependent we are on satellites."

So what does all this mean? If you're the average human being walking here on Earth, it could mean some minor inconveniences. You may have problems with ATM transactions, you may have some glitches in your cell phone. "This far south, we're not likely to have any power disruptions or anything like that," said Watson. "In fact, it looks like the worst of the storm has already passed us."

According to Watson, these particular spots or sun storms aren't as bad as they have been in the past. If you're interesting in observing these phenomena, experts say about 2,000 people go blind each year from looking at the sun, so use extreme caution.

If you would like more information on sun spots, visit the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association online.

Reported by: Nicole Teigen, nteigen@wtoc.com

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