LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Cell phone acting up? Is your blackberry behaving badly? Don’t blame your wireless carrier — this time. Blame the sun!
It sounds like science fiction, but this is science fact.
A huge storm on the sun has sent solar flares to Earth — and the massive cloud of radioactive particles is likely to cause big problems with communication signals and systems, satellites, airline flights, and personal electronic devices.
Scientists tell CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter Juan Fernandez that GPS devices, electricity and utility grids could also be affected — starting Wednesday evening.
Experts tell Fernandez this high level of solar flares is normal. Every 11 years, the Earth gets a high level of radioactive particles that come from the sun. Even so, what is normally a high level is even higher than expected.
That’s why authorities are saying electronic devices — starting at 10:30 p.m. tonight and possibly lasting through Friday — may occasionally act up.
Those particles race to Earth at speeds of upwards of 2 million miles per hour.
Dr. Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, told Fernandez, we could be in some danger of having the solar flares wreck communication.
Says Krupp,”High technology, of course, is always vulnerable. Because we’ve got it up the level where this stuff is coming in. It didn’t used to be like this. But since we started putting satellites in space, they obviously had to deal with this [the flares] as well. People have been designing satellites to protect them from this kind of thing. A great deal can be done. You take defensive action. Same thing with the electrical grid.”
Krupp adds that flights likely will be affected.”It’s prudent at a time like this to reroute aircraft — we know that GPS systems and satellites are vulnerable. So they wind up skirting farther south trying to stay away from where the major number of particles happen to be.”
Fernandez reports airlines that fly to China –which normally go up to the North Pole, before swinging back to Asia — are rerouting.
Here, in the Southland, Fernandez reports cell phones and GPS systems will likely take the brunt of the particles.