Solar Storm Warning Predicts ‘Direct Hit’ Today
Experts have predicted a solar storm could have a ‘direct hit’ on Earth today, October 11, potentially causing geomagnetic disruption.
The prediction comes from forecasters at the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), part of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who issued a geomagnetic storm warning yesterday.
Experts described the solar storm as ‘moderate’, listing it as ‘G2’ on the scale of G1 to G5, where one is the weakest and five has the most potential for damage.
Though it’s on the more reassuring end of the scale, even G1 storms can create issues for billions of people due to power grid fluctuations and impacts on satellite operations.
On its website, the SWPC says the approaching storm could have possible effects on power systems, including fluctuations and voltage alarms at higher latitudes; spacecraft, causing orientation irregularities and increased drag on low-Earth orbiters; and radio.
The storm may also allow aurora to be visible as low as ‘New York to Wisconsin to Washington state’ in the US.
Cyber security expert Chris Vickery shared predictions the storm would hit Earth between 6am and 6pm GMT, writing on Twitter, ‘Heads-up. Big solar flare observed and headed for Earth. Trajectory is going to be a direct hit. Expect low-level geomagnetic disruption.’
Vickery went on to make reference to the Facebook outage that took place last week, writing, ‘My spidey-sense is forecasting another facebook outage.’
SpaceWeather.com explained the storm could mark ‘the first head-on CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) strike of young Solar Cycle 25’. The site described it as a ‘”halo CME’ because CMEs heading directly for Earth seem to form a 360-degree halo around the sun’.
Dozens of CMEs are said to have missed Earth already this year, many of which were ‘near misses, provoking no more than minor geomagnetic unrest as they passed by’. This time though, the site explains, ‘the Sun is shooting straight’.
The biggest solar storm on record, known as the Carrington Event, occurred in 1859 and caused auroras over Cuba, the Bahamas and Hawaii as well as setting fire to telegraph stations as it rocked Earth’s magnetic field.
Today’s storm is set to be far less dramatic, with SpaceWeather stressing, ‘This is not the Carrington Event.’
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