Sun spots and solar flares are a common occurrence and sometimes disrupt radio and satellite reception. But stronger storms could be much more disruptive of life on earth. A new study shows Michigan one of the most vulnerable spots in America when it comes to solar storms.

USGS via Business Insider

According to a report from Business Insider,

a new mapping effort by the US Geological Survey (USGS) shows how the hazards of geomagnetic storms are not the same all over Earth.

"Power grids are grounded, so they can pick up electric fields generated deep inside the Earth. But that geoelectric activity depends on the geology, and that's different from one region to the next," Jeffrey Love, a research physicist at the USGS and leader of the new study in Geophysical Research Letters

While all of Michigan is at some risk during a solar storm event, Northern Michigan around the Straits of Mackinac as well as the Keewenaw Peninsula are at an even higher risk.

Why? Think of these areas, and the ones in Northern Minnesota as 'choke points' in the nation's power grid,

this is due to "complex" geology in the region, plus the fact that planet's magnetic fields funnel high-energy solar particles toward Earth's poles.

A spokesperson for the power company in Minnesota said,

"In general, Minnesota Power has been aware for a long time that northern Minnesota is a hazardous location for geoelectric events and what we need to do to monitor and protect our system equipment and to design for potential disturbances," Rogers told Business Insider. "Also, the science behind GMD's [geomagnetic disturbances] and why we are at a heightened risk for has not ever changed."

Powerful solar storms occasionally bombard earth with disruptive radiation with the strongest on record being the 1859 'Carrington Event,' which,

Studies have shown that a solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would likely cause more widespread problems for a modern and technology-dependent society.

During the 1859 storm,

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies