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Strongest Solar Flares In 5 Years Hitting Earth: What Does It Mean?

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IN SPACE - MARCH 6: In this handout from NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a X5.4 solar flare, the largest in five years, erupts from the sun's surface March 6, 2012. According to reports, particles from the flare are suppose to reach earth early March 7, possibly disrupting technology such as GPS system, satellite networks and airline flights. (Photo by NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) via Getty Images)

IN SPACE – MARCH 6: In this handout from NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a X5.4 solar flare, the largest in five years, erupts from the sun’s surface March 6, 2012. According to reports, particles from the flare are suppose to reach earth early March 7, possibly disrupting technology such as GPS system, satellite networks and airline flights. (Photo by NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) via Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – An umbrella won’t be able to protect you from this kind of storm.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Lana Jones reports.

This storm, the strongest solar storm in five years, is made up of a massive cloud of charged particles from the sun that is pelting the Earth on Thursday.

WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud reports.

It started with a huge solar flare earlier this week and grew as it raced away. As the storm strikes, particles are moving at 4 million miles per hour.

“The sun goes through an 11-year cycle, and solar flares, as its tending toward maximum, which the sun is doing right now, are not unusual,” said Bill Harwood, the CBS News space consultant. “These aren’t the biggest flares they’ve ever seen, but they are the most energetic in the last five years or so.”

All of that energy could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services.

“There probably will be some good auroral displays, the northern and southern lights, if you will,” said Harwood. “There could be some disruptions. There could also be some impact on global positioning system readings.”

Scientists say another set of active sunspots is ready to aim another blast at our planet.

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