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Colorado Suffered Little In Wake Of Solar Flare

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(credit: NOAA)

(credit: NOAA)

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- Scientists believe Colorado has suffered the worst of what the solar flare had to offer.

It struck the Earth Thursday morning, two days after it erupted on the sun’s surface and caused some flights to be re-routed and may be responsible for cell phone signals dropping.

“It’s been pretty intense. We’ve had one of the bigger storms of this solar cycle,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Rodney Viereck.

Scientists at NOAA’s Space Weather Center in Boulder monitor the sun 365 days a year. This time, although the Earth was hit by the flare, it was only a glancing blow.

“It wasn’t a direct blow. It wasn’t pointed directly at us so we didn’t get what could have been the full brunt of the storm,” said Viereck.

Xcel Energy paid close attention to the flare’s behavior because of the potential to impact power grids.

“The thought behind the process is very real for our industry,” said Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz. “This time around it didn’t catch us in the places where it’s most likely to cause the most damage.”

Scientists are watching for the next flare and its potential to cause more damage. A stronger storm caused massive power outages in Canada in 1989.

“These are the kind of things we can anticipate more and more over the next five years,” said Viereck.

Researchers said the sun is entering a maximum phase where flares will become more frequent and more intense. But it’s unlikely they would have a direct impact on the population.

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