Local News

Solar Event May Cause Electrical Interruptions

Posted June 6, 2000

— In the past few days, North Carolina residents have faced tornado warnings, thunderstorm warnings and Code Red ozone days. On Thursday, residents will deal with a geomagnetic storm warning.

Early Tuesday morning, two giant solar flares erupted from the sun and headed toward Earth.

"There's actually a spacecraft called SOHO, theSolar and Heliospheric Observatory, which is out in space continually monitoring the sun with several different cameras," says Drew Gilmore, an astronomer at UNC'sMorehead Planetarium. "Yesterday, it detected this big coronal mass ejection, a big poof of gas coming off from the sun."

The solar gas should arrive near Earth late Thursday. Scientists say the storm is packed with enough power to penetrate the Earth's electromagnetic shield. It will not end the world, but it may cause electrical interruptions through the day.

"Events like this have been known to cause problems with electrical power supplies, communications and satellites in space," Gilmore says.

Raleigh resident Anna McFarlane is not too worried about the upcoming solar event.

"I'll be checking my pager every 20 minutes to make sure it works and to see if the cell phone works," McFarlane says.

CP&Lsays they are not expecting any problems.

Observers can look at the sky Thursday night and possibly see a red or green glow from the radiation.

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