Strong Solar Geomagnetic Storm Predicted Overnight Tonight Through Friday 

 

 

Key Points  
  • A very energetic solar eruption was observed Tuesday afternoon that produced an R3 (strong) radio blackout and a S2 (moderate) solar radiation storm on Earth.
  • The most delayed aspect of a solar eruption is the arrival of the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) which generally follows a day or two after the solar eruption and can cause a Geomagnetic Storm.
  • The NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) is predicting the arrival of the CME from Tuesday's eruption to arrive at Earth during the early morning hours of Thursday EST.
  • Since the eruption was intense and Earth-directed, SWPC is predicting that the Geomagnetic Storm will be strong, or category G3.
  • All of this activity stems from "Region 1944" that had been relatively quiet until Tuesday.
  • Due to the nature of solar events, there will be very little new information until the time the CME reaches the NASA ACE spacecraft just upstream of Earth. Once it reaches those sensors, SWPC can issue short-term, higher-confidence warnings.
  • Region 1944 will be in a position to affect Earth for most of the next week as it continues to make its way across the sun, so subsequent activity is possible.


Potential Impacts from a G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm

  • Power systems: 
    • Voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some protection devices.
  • Satellite operations: 
    • Surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
  • Other:
    • Intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent.
    • Aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically to around 50 degrees latitude).
In addition, the moderate Solar Radiation Storm currently being observed is likely disrupting polar High Frequency radio communications.

NOAA/NWS Activities
  • The NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) provided an update during their routine briefing to FEMA Headquarters. The NOAA Liaison to FEMA is also engaged with FEMA HQ regarding the latest forecasts and potential space weather impacts.
  • SWPC has around 38,000 accounts registered in their email subscription service, and frequent updates are being sent through that system.
  • SWPC is also updating customers through web page updates and social media.
  • SWPC has a system in place to notify power grid officials if conditions warrant, but this event is not expected to pose a significant threat to critical infrastructure.

Links

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.