A 1967 solar storm brought US, Russia to brink of war

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A 1967 Solar Storm Brought U.S., Russia To Brink Of War

A solar storm almost caused the U.S. to launch a nuclear attack on Russia in 1967, reports a new study.

According to an American Geophysical Union press release, when three radar systems designed to monitor Soviet missile activity stopped working properly, American military commanders suspected interference from the Russians.

Considering this disruption a sign of war, the U.S. readied additional nuclear weapons, notes CBS News.

However, researchers believe the Solar Forecasting Center was able to communicate in time to military officials—and perhaps even President Johnson—that the radars were being jammed by a solar storm, not the Russians.

In fact, when retired Colonel Arnold Snyder, who worked at the Solar Forecasting Center, was asked about solar activity at the time, he remembers saying, in part, "Yes, half the sun has blown away."

Fortunately, no weapons were deployed, but the storm did go on to "disrupt U.S. radio communications...for almost a week."

The study points out that both the Air Force and Department of Defense decided to invest in and support space weather forecasting as a result of this incident.

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