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article imageSolar storm hurtling towards Earth expected for Saturday

By Alexandra Christopoulos     Jul 13, 2012 in Environment
The sky may appear to be extra shimmery this weekend, because of a solar storm that's on its way. Due to hit Earth's magnetic field on Saturday, experts say the storm started on Thursday when the sun unleashed a massive flare.
Scientists say this is the sixth time this year this has occurred, but the storm is expected to be minor, which won't likely affect power grids.
"We don't see any ill effects to any systems," said forecaster Joe Kunches at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.
Racing towards Earth at about 4.8 million km per hour, the outburst will likely last until Sunday.
None of the previous storms caused any major concerns. In severe cases, solar storms can cause power blackouts, damage satellites and disrupt GPS signals, as well as high-frequency radio communications.
As a result, airlines are sometimes forced to reroute flights to avoid the extra radiation around the north and south poles.
Juha-Pekka Luntama, a space weather expert at the European Space Agency, says utility and navigation operators "will certainly see something but they will probably find ways to deal with any problems" from the incoming storm."
But the storm is part of the suns natural 11-year cycle of solar activity, which space experts predict will peak next year.
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