Strong Solar Geomagnetic Storm Through Friday

Ongoing Strong Solar Geomagnetic Storm through Friday


Cloudy skies are expected across southern Wisconsin through the night.  However, if there happens to be a break in the clouds after midnight, look north to possibly catch the Aurora (Northern Lights). 

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 this morning.
  • Since the eruption was intense and Earth-directed, SWPC is predicting that the Geomagnetic Storm will be strong, or category G3 through Friday.
  • All of this activity stems from "Region 1944" at the Sun 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.

Latest GOES Solar X-ray Image from NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center


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.




National Weather Service - Milwaukee/Sullivan


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