Get ready! The largest solar flare in five years is racing toward Earth and is threatening to disrupt power grids, GPS and airplane flights.

Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center said the sun erupted Tuesday evening and the effects should start smacking Earth late tonight, close to midnight EST.  It’s likely to last through Friday morning.

There is the potential for widespread problems. Solar storms have three ways they can disrupt technology on Earth: with magnetic, radio and radiation emissions.  The magnetic part of the storm has the potential to trip electrical power grids. The timing and speed of the storm determines whether it will knock off power grids.  Solar storms can also make global positioning systems less accurate, which is mostly a problem for precision drilling and other technologies, There also could be GPS outages.  The storm also can cause communication problems and added radiation around the north and south poles, which will probably force airlines to reroute flights. Some satellites could also be affected by the storm too.

For now, scientists are waiting to see what happens Thursday when the charged particles hit Earth at 4 million mph.

For us that means more noticeable auroras or Northern Lights which will peak Thursday evening, but a full moon will make them harder to see.

Keep your eyes on the skies!