Thursday, March 8, 2012

Solar Watch: Planes rerouted as massive solar storm brushes by Earth

The largest solar storm in five years -- spawned by a double whammy of flares from the sun -- has engulfed the Earth, but scientists say the planet has lucked out, largely missing the predicted dangers. The storm arrived more peacefully Thursday morning than it could have. Scientists say that could change as the storm spends the day shaking the planet's magnetic field. Airlines and power grid operators were warned of potential issues from the storm -- and some reported taking precautionary steps just in case. “We are flying alternate routes for seven flights,” Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, told Polar flights -- those with paths that cross over the North Pole -- can suffer from communications issues and pilots and passengers can be exposed to radiation. To avoid that, Delta switched to preplanned alternate routes for several westbound flights between U.S. cities such as Atlanta, Minneapolis and New York City and Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Nagoya.

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