Solar storm headed straight for Earth!

Great news for everyone currently living on Earth--the largest solar storm in five years is apparently due to arrive today, shaking us like a rattle and possibly impacting everything from the globe's magnetic field to electricity to GPS systems.

According to scientists, the storm started with a massive solar flare earlier this week and has continued to grow. When it actually lands, the particles will reportedly be moving at 4 million miles per hour.

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The storm is predicted to the strongest overall since December 2006, with powerful magnetic, radio, and radiation emissions. It could potentially interrupt electronic utility grids and satellite networks, particularly in northern areas. The flare could also cause communication problems and additional radiation around the north and south poles, an issue that might force airlines to reroute flights.  

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Still, scientists say solar storms are actually part of the sun's normal 11-year cycle and that they aren't harmful for people, but are just disruptive for technology (clearly, they underestimate how much most of us rely on technology).  

"This is a good-size event, but not the extreme type," Bill Murtagh, program coordinator for the federal government's Space Weather Prediction Center, told the AP.

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Uh, well it certainly sounds extreme to me! In fact, this entire incident is really not doing anything to ease my worlds-ending-in-2012 paranoia. But, I'm willing to put my faith and trust in the scientists who do this for a living and who (hopefully) know a whole lot more about the solar system than I do. If they say it won't be dangerous, then it won't be…right?

What do you think? Are you worried about the solar flare?

Image via Lights in the Dark/flickr