Saturday 11 May 2024

Huge Geomagnetic Storm From Sun Could Hit Earth Tonight, Power Grids Threatened, Northern Lights May Be Visible

 For the first time since January 2005, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a warning for a harsh geomagnetic storm that could hit the Earth on Friday night.

The warning about the Sever G4 Geomagnetic Storm came after Wednesday’s series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun. CMEs can cause geomagnetic storms when directed toward the Earth; five of the solar flares appeared to be directed toward the Earth.

“Additional solar eruptions could cause geomagnetic storm conditions to persist through the weekend,” NOAA warned, adding, “Geomagnetic storms can impact infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on Earth’s surface, potentially disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations.”

On the other hand, geomagnetic storms can also “trigger spectacular displays of aurora on Earth. A severe geomagnetic storm includes the potential for aurora to be seen as far south as Alabama and Northern California,” NOAA noted.

“During a coronal mass ejection, the sun expels billions of tons of material, some of which travel toward our planet,” NBC News explained. “The Earth’s magnetic field deflects most of the sun’s particles, but some enter at the poles, where interactions with our atmosphere create the aurora borealis.”

The sun changes from minimum to maximum activity every 11 years; the latest cycle started in 2019 and should peak in July 2025. The Space Weather Prediction Center has an aurora dashboard that forecasts the northern lights.

Shawn Dahl, service coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center, said officials are expecting a “big shock arrival” when the CMEs hit Earth. “We’re really buckling down here,” Brent Gordon, chief of the space weather services branch, added, according to CBS News.

At roughly 8 p.m. ET on Friday, when the CMEs are roughly one million miles away, scientists will have a better idea of how strong the geomagnetic storm is. “When we see those arrive, that’s when we’ll know the intensity,” Dahl stated.

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