July 14, 2000 - Just after dawn on the east coast, the sun erupted in an amazing series of events that showered the Earth in a storm of radiation.
An extremely large solar flare (as if there's ever a small one) was followed by mind-blowing mass ejection that blasted billions of tons of atomic particles toward the Earth at 3 million miles per hour. It took them 15 minutes to get here. The onslaught triggered geo-magnetic disturbances all around the world. Power grids, navigation systems and communication networks experienced intermittent disruptions.
Scientists described the scale of the solar blast as 40 billion times larger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Thankfully, our planet's magnetic fields shield us from most of the radioactive ions, but people at higher altitudes - like passengers on planes - received a dose of radiation equivalent to a chest x-ray.