Electronics Interrupted By Solar Storm

Someone texting on their cell phone.

If your cell phone is acting up, hang in there – it’s just the recent solar CME.

If your cell phone, GPS, or Internet are acting wonky lately, don’t spend your time stuck on hold with your service providers – it’s probably the Sun messing things up.

On Tuesday, August 20, 2013, the Sun blasted billions of tons of solar particles toward the Earth at 3.3 million km/h (2 million mph).

That’s about 550 miles per second, and a fairly average speed for a CME. They happen all the time during an active solar cycle, but what’s unique about this CME is that it is headed toward the Earth.


Radioactive particles ejected by Earth-directed CMEs typically take two or three days to reach our planet. CMEs that hit Earth produce beautiful auroras, known as the Northern and Southern Lights, and this was once the only effect from CMEs.

A picture of the aurora borealis.

The Northern Lights – aurora borealis.

Today, mankind has numerous satellites rotating around the Earth that supply the hubs for our dependency on a paperless society. Satellites power the Internet, wireless communications, and on-line banking, but CMEs can trigger geomagnetic storms that can disrupt radio communications, GPS signals, and power grids.

Head’s Up!

If your cell phone is dropping calls or your on-line banking is messing up, hang in there – not every CME smacks us head-on. 

Tomorrow is another day.