9 Mar 2012

Solar storm passes with little effect

8:51 am on 9 March 2012

A solar storm that shook the Earth's magnetic field on Thursday spared satellite and power systems, although US weather experts said there remained risk it it could intensify.

The geomagnetic storm surging from the sun was initially expected to be strong enough to disrupt power grids, airplane traffic and space-based satellite navigation systems.

But US government scientists on Thursday downgraded their prediction on the intensity of the storm - a big cloud of charged particles spawned by two solar flares.

Joseph Kunches, a space weather specialist at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there were some communication disruptions in the polar regions of the Earth that led airlines to reroute flights on Wednesday to avoid problems.

However the storm was not likely to be strong enough to disrupt GPS systems.