On Friday afternoon, federal forecasters predicted “geomagnetic disturbances” from upcoming solar storms starting Saturday and lasting a week.
Upcoming Solar Event
“Recent coronal mass ejections have departed the sun and may reach Earth as glancing blows,” warned the Space Weather Prediction Center. Early effects could arrive as early as November 4. Coronal mass ejections are large bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by powerful magnetic field lines that are released from the Sun over several hours, according to NASA. Solar flares, or explosions on the sun’s surface, can cause “huge, twisted rope” shapes, according to the space agency. “The most recent coronal mass ejection from November 3 is more likely to have an Earth-directed component and may reach Earth afterward,” the center said. Another solar event is likely Nov. 8-10.
All of this activity makes for a fascinating forecast problem, and the center says geomagnetic disturbances are growing more likely from November 4 to 10. “Updated forecasts are likely.” Solar storms influence Earth and the solar system. Solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and auroras accompany it. Aurora borealis observations increase during solar storms. While federal forecasters have not yet predicted an aurora, SpaceWeather.com says “aurora watchers should get their hopes up,” maybe for Sunday. The prediction center also warned that strong geomagnetic storms could disrupt the electrical grid, degrade GPS signals, increase satellite orbital drag, and expose airline crews and astronauts to radiation.
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