By Noah Rayman
September 11, 2014

A strong solar flare is barreling toward Earth at 2.5 million miles per hour, but scientists say its worst effects will likely bypass the planet when it expectedly arrives by the weekend.

Solar flares from the sun occur with frequency and, when unleashed toward Earth, can cause so-called solar storms. This particular one is categorized as a low-level X-class flare, the most severe of the three classes.

A storm of this size hasn’t headed toward Earth in several years, Tom Berger, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., told the Associated Press. But, he added, “we’re not scared of this one.”

Earth’s atmosphere largely protects people on the ground from the radiation effects of a solar flare, but such blasts do have the potential to knock out power systems and disrupt satellite communications. Berger told the AP that the one heading toward Earth could slightly disturb some satellite and radio communications.

Storms categorized as “Extreme” have the potential to cause massive damage to electrical and communication systems and even pose a health hazard to passengers and crew in high-flying planes.

Here’s video footage from NASA of the solar flare in the middle of the sun on Wednesday:

Write to Noah Rayman at noah.rayman@time.com.

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