NOAA WARNING: “Severe Geomagnetic Storm” Forecast to Hit Earth as Early as Today – Power Grid Blackouts, Internet Outages, and Supercharged Northern Lights Possible

Credit; Earth.com

A G4 severe geomagnetic storm is forecast to impact Earth later today, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This marks the first time in nearly two decades that officials have warned such an event could occur.

NOAA decided to issue a watch for the storm after forecasters observed multiple earth-directed coronal mass ejections (CME’s) earlier this week.

The agency notes these earth-directed coronal mass ejections could arrive as early as midday Friday, May 10, 2024, and persist through Sunday, May 12, 2024, in what they call an “unusual event.”

Credit: NOAA.gov

As the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) notes, CME’s are “large expulsions of plasma and magnetized particles from the Sun’s corona.” They can explode in size as they approach the Earth’s surface and cause geomagnetic storms upon arrival.

According to SWPC, the particles ejected by the sun cause disruptions in Earth’s magnetosphere during a geomagnetic storm. The center notes powerful storms can even affect the Earth’s ionosphere by adding energy in the form of heat. This heat can “increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low Earth orbit.”

Because of this, significant disruptions in navigation systems, radio communications, internet outages and power grid blackouts are all possible. This can potentially affect the daily lives of millions of people around the globe.

Space.com reports one flare peaked in the early hours this morning (May 10) at 2:54 a.m. (0654 GMT) and triggered either temporary or complete loss of high frequency (HF) radio signals across Asia, eastern Europe, and eastern Africa.

Officials say a supercharged Northern Lights spectacle is a likely impact from this storm from late Friday and into Saturday. During the storm, auroras are forecast to be visible across the United States, even as far south as Alabama.

CBS News notes the true strength of the storm will be known until approximately 8 p.m. ET on Friday when the CMEs are about a million miles from Earth.

Shawn Dahl, service coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center, said officials expect a ” big shock arrival” when the CMEs hit Earth. As CBS News reported, Dahl said that while officials aren’t predicting a G5 storm (the most potent possible geomagnetic storm), they are not ruling out a “low-end G5 event.”

This marks the first time a storm watch has been issued for a G4 since January 2005. CBS News notes there are about 100 severe geomagnetic storms every solar cycle, but only three have been noticed in the most recent cycle that began in December 2019.

The last time there was a G5 or extreme geomagnetic storm was in October 2003. This storm caused power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

 

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