Solar storm warning: You have a year to prepare

Federal agency says there'll be a new cycle of solar storms starting in March 2008. It could affect power grids and communications.

Harry Fuller Executive editor, CNET News.com
Harry Fuller escaped from television work to be executive editor at CNET News.com.
Harry Fuller

The federal government now predicts a new cycle of solar storms will start in March 2008. Those storms are expected to peak around the end of 2011. That's the conclusion of some scientists at NOAA.

Solar storms lead to violent eruptions on the sun's surface. There'll be solar flares and explosions sending highly charged matter toward Earth's atmosphere. This jolts Earth's geomagnetic field and ionosphere. That can lead to disruption of electric grids and communications systems.

Sunspot predictions for this coming storm cycle run from 90 to 140. There were different prediction models among the scientists and that led to disagreement over how strong the next solar storm cycle might be. Stick around, we'll find out.