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Solar Storm: Delta Reroutes Flights As Other Airlines Monitor Situation

First Posted: 01/24/2012 2:31 pm Updated: 01/25/2012 7:39 am

UPDATE, 1/25:

A Delta spokesman told Reuters that the flight re-routing has added roughly 15 minutes to flights. United confirmed it re-routed one flight on Monday, but none on Tuesday.

PREVIOUSLY: The biggest solar storm in more than 6 years is affecting earthlings this week, causing fears of radiation exposure for ISS astronauts and creating epically beautiful Northern Lights display for the residents the United Kingdom.

The airlines too, are reacting to the storm. Delta Airlines told Fox News that they would be "adjusting the flight pattern of a few... flights...flying further south than we would normally fly."

The adjustments affected roughly six flights on Tuesday, including ones that was supposed to fly over the pole from Hong Kong to the US. The airline will reevaluate the situation on Wednesday to see if further changes need to be implemented.

Bill Murtagh, a program coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center, told MSNBC.com that "Most of the major airlines flying polar [routes], or even some non-polar, high-altitude routes, have taken action to mitigate the effect of this storm."

The reason for the concerns? The flash flood of charged plasma particles could interfere with a plane's navigation systems, the Seattle Times reports.

Astronomer Dr. David Whitehouse explained to Sky News that the storm would likely "cause some satellite computers to reboot, it will cause some communications difficulties in northern latitudes, but it's not big enough to cause problems to sat-nav and things like that."

The Washington Post reports that radio blackouts could force more airlines to reconsider flight routes.

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Filed by Kate Auletta  |