Solar blasts of energy from the sun began reaching the Earth on Friday and could disrupt some communications, according to scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Storms are brewing some 93 million miles away and three solar flares erupted on the sun starting Tuesday, touching earth's magnetic field on Friday in the form of fast-moving "solar wind" and is blowing by the Earth, Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Wall Street Journal.
Kunches told The Associated Press that the strongest electromagnetic shocks were being felt Friday by the ACE spacecraft, a satellite that measures radiation bursts a few minutes before they strike Earth.
But it is too early to know what the effects of the blasts will be, he said.
"If it's a really big storm, it still could be active [Saturday] night, but this kind of disturbance level won't be sustained for long," Kunches told WSJ, adding that "It seems that the magnetic field is getting hit harder than we thought it would."
Tom Bogdan, director of the center, told the AP that the sun is going from a quiet period into a busier cycle for solar flares and an increase in the number of such blasts is expected over the next three to five years.
Solar flares send out bursts of electromagnetic energy that strike the Earth's magnetic field. The most common impacts for the average person are the glowing auroras around the north and south poles, and the researchers said those could be visible this weekend, according to the AP.
NOAA notified U.S. electric-grid and satellite-communication operators of the events that could interfere with some communications, mostly those that are closest to the South and North Poles, Kunches to WSJ.
"The magnetic poles in both hemispheres are most exposed to charged particles that come from solar wind," he said.
Kunchies also said airlines with international flights between North America and Asia have been notified of the solar wind, which has been known to interfere with high-frequency radio communications.
The magnetic blasts, which Bogdan compared to a tsunami in space, can also affect electronic communications and electrical systems, according to the AP, which reported that a 1989 solar flare knocked out the electrical systems in Quebec, Canada, but the current solar storm is not expected to be that powerful.
On a scale of 1 to 5, Bogdan said, it is probably a 2 or 3.