The sun could be sending a storm to Earth in the next few days. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our fiery star spewed a series of gusts on Sunday that are headed in the direction of our planet and could trigger a strong geomagnetic storm.
One of these explosions, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, is expected to collide and consume another, creating what is called a cannibalistic CME event. According to The Weather Channel, these events can trigger strong geomagnetic storms — and in this case, they’re headed our way.
NOAA expects the ejections to happen on Thursday, but before that, the agency said Earth will also be hit on Wednesday with relatively fast solar winds, known as the high-velocity recurrent outflow from the coronal hole. Solar winds alone could trigger a small geomagnetic storm on Wednesday, but those conditions are expected to increase to strong conditions, known as G3, once solar flares appear.
NOAA said at least four of the CMEs have the potential to directly affect Earth.
Geomagnetic storms are rated on a scale from G1 to G5, with G5 being the most extreme. In that case, there would be widespread voltage control problems and some electrical networks could experience “complete collapse or blackouts,” according to NOAA.
A G3 storm, as predicted, may require correction of some power voltage systems and may also trigger some false alarms in power protection devices.
This storm can also create a nice side effect – northern lights visible outside of your usual realm.
NOAA previously said that the northern lights, also known as the northern lights, could be seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon if the G3 hits.
When a CME hit Earth on Wednesday, it sparked a G2 geomagnetic storm and an aurora sighting in Herzogswalde, Germany, according to spaceweather.com, which tracks the latest data from NOAA. Herzogswalde is at 51ºN latitude, approximately in line with central Quebec and Ontario in Canada. And as spaceweather.com noted, the lights were visible in that city through “clouds, fog and urban lights”.
As of Thursday morning, NOAA said the impact area is primarily areas 50ºN and later, adding that aurora may be visible at high latitudes such as Canada and Alaska.
Also on Wednesday, NASA astronaut Bob Hines, who is a pilot on the SpaceX Crew-4 mission launched in April, shared his own photos of the Northern Lights as seen from space. He pointed to recent solar activity to create the radiance.
Where the lights will be visible and how intense they will be is best estimated by NOAA about 30 to 90 minutes in advance. Radar shows that on Thursday morning, around 2:45 am ET, the likelihood of aurora being seen from North Dakota, Minnesota and most of Canada has increased dramatically.
A short-term forecast for the lights can be found here.
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