Five years after the Cuban Missile crisis brought the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of war, another event occurred that brought the two superpowers once again to the brink.

This event didn’t involve military movements, covert intelligence, or revolution. Instead, a war nearly started because of a storm on the sun.

In a paper published in Space Weather, researchers describe the impact of the 1967 storm on national security, and the space weather alert system in the United States.

The storm, which originated on the Sun in mid-to-late May of 1967, was a G5 storm, the highest classification, given to only the strongest solar storms. The waves of radiation, magnetic fields, and gasses emanating from the Sun collided with the Earth’s atmosphere in late May, temporarily disrupting American radar systems in the Northern Hemisphere that were designed to watch for incoming missiles.

At that moment, it appeared that the most likely explanation for the failure of the stations was a coordinated attack by the Soviets, jamming the radar equipment of the United States. The military went on high alert, until researchers with the nascent Solar Forecasting Center managed to get information to the officials in charge, calming fears of an impending attack.

Read more at Popular Science

Image courtesy of