Don't Fret Over Sunday's Magnetic Storm

Don't Fret Over Sunday's Magnetic Storm

After several media outlets wrote about a massive geomagnetic storm that could hit Earth on March 18, it spread across the internet like wildfire.

And the impending solar storm may bring those Northern Lights much farther south than usual.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a "G1" storm watch.

But this also causes huge cracks to open up in the magnetic field which stay open for hours. Geomagnetic storms are measured on a scale of G1 to G5, with G1 being the most minor and G5 being the most severe.

These send a stream of electrical charges and magnetic fields towards the Earth at a speed of around 3,000mph.

In 2011 a CME produced a particularly powerful solar flare that disrupted radio communications throughout China.

That said, one potentially cool effect from the coming G1 solar storm may be in the form of charged up auroras.

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NOAA says the incoming solar storm is expected to be a G-1 "minor" storm. That means there is no reason to worry as these storms happen roughly 2,000 times within 11 years, or about once every two days, which means it won't even be felt.

Solar flares occur when a build-up of magnetic energy on the sun is suddenly released.

"Railway networks could be affected in case of an extreme space weather event due to the direct impact on system components, such as track circuits or electronics, or indirectly via dependencies on power, communications, and progressively on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for timing and positioning", ScienceAlert reported, quoting JRC.

The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event in 1859, aimed after Brit astronomer Richard Carrington, which electrified telegraph lines and shocked technicians, setting their papers on fire - it was visible as far as Cuba and Hawaii.

If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis in the northern US over the next few days, you'll want to travel out of a city and as far away from lights as possible.

"Closer to Earth's surface, solar activity can cause disruptions of radio signals (particularly HF), provide a small dose of radiation to passengers on high-latitude flights, and provoke auroras (northern and southern lights)".

But the cracks could also create unbelievable opportunities for stargazers to catch a better view of the Northern lights.

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