Delta Reroutes Planes Following Massive Solar Eruption
Radiation from an immense solar blast hit the Earth Tuesday — forcing Delta Air Lines to redirect at least half a dozen airplanes that had been routed over the North Pole.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center — the nation’s official source of warnings about space weather and its impact on Earth — issued a geomagnetic storm warning Monday after a satellite witnessed an ultraviolet flash from the massive solar eruption.
There is no risk to people on Earth, Doug Biesecker of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center told foxnews.com.
But as a rare precaution, some polar flights were re-routed to avoid communication lapses and exposing pilots and passengers to excessive radiation.
“We know that some airlines did not fly the polar routes yesterday,” Biesecker told foxnews.com. Delta is one of them, rerouting flights between Hong Kong and the U.S. that usually fly over the pole.
“We are adjusting the flight pattern of a few of our flights,” Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta, told foxnews.com. “We’re flying further south than we would normally fly.”
The changes — mainly intended to prevent loss of radio communication — affect approximately six flights today, he said; the airline will re-evaluate tomorrow to determine whether additional changes will be required.
Ed Martelle, a spokesman for American Airlines, said it was not affected by the solar flares, though American continued to monitor the situation. United did not respond to foxnews.com emails, nor did the FAA respond to requests for more information.
Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, first suggested that rerouting might be necessary Monday morning at a Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La., according to space.com.
Eruptions on the sun shoot tremendous streams of charged particles away from the star — in this case directly towards us.
“A [coronal mass ejection (CME)] hit Earth’s magnetic field on Jan. 24th at approximately 1500 UT (10 am EST). Geomagnetic storms are likely in the hours ahead. If it’s dark where you live, go outside and look for auroras,” spaceweather.com wrote. Auroras were already clearly visible in the skies over Scotland and Northern England.