A 2012 Solar Storm Almost Caused A Worldwide Catastrophe

Kevin Loria | Business Insider | July 25, 2014

The world as we know it almost came to an end in 2012 — though it happened before the Mayan calendar came to an end. Instead, one of the strongest solar storms ever recorded sent a burst of energy through Earth's orbit that could have crippled electrical systems across the planet.  "If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces," said Daniel Baker of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in a NASA press release. Luckily for us, it missed our home planet.

...If the storm had hit the planet, it would have wiped out power grids, radios, and GPS systems, and as Baker said, it would have disabled "everything that plugs into a wall socket."  Not only would this stop you from using your computer, it would take down most the systems that provide water to urban areas all over the planet.

So how close were we to getting hit?  "If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire," said Baker.  It did hit the Stereo A spacecraft, which is what provided the data that researchers have been analyzing ever since and released in April...