Solar storms/flares are solar events sending particles in space that are potentially dangerous on Earth. From Wikipedia:
Solar flares strongly influence the local space weather in the vicinity of the Earth. They can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind, known as a solar proton event. These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere (see main article at geomagnetic storm), and present radiation hazards to spacecraft and astronauts. Additionally, massive solar flares are sometimes accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which can trigger geomagnetic storms that have been known to disable satellites and knock out terrestrial electric power grids for extended periods of time.
They are rated by the US NOAA on a scale from 1 to 5. For instance, level 3 events occur about once a year:
S3 (Strong) - Biological: radiation hazard avoidance recommended astronauts on EVA. Passengers and crew in commercial jets at high latitudes may receive radiation equivalent to approximately 1 chest x-ray.
There are also geomagnetic storms listed on the same page.
Is this a real risk for commercial aviation, if so how do airlines treat this risks on affected routes, e.g.:
- How are airlines informed?
- Are pilot-in-command informed and allowed to veto a flight?
- What do they do regarding exposed crews and passengers?