March 9, 2014
The sun is moving into a busier period for sunspots. Forecasters expect a relatively mild outbreak by historical standards, but one major solar storm can cause havoc with satellites and electrical systems.
Researcher Doug Biesecker of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's space weather prediction center compared solar storms to hurricanes: A weak cycle may mean fewer storms, but even one powerful one can be devastating.
A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences found that if a storm as severe as one in 1859 occurred today, it could cause $1 trillion to $2 trillion in damage the first year and require four to 10 years for recovery.