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Solar Storm Warning

March 8, 2012 by staff 

Solar Storm Warning, There’s a storm heading our way. No, not a rain storm, but a solar storm. One of the largest solar flares of the current cycle erupted last night and has produced a solar storm that is headed right at us.

The Space Weather Prediction Center has issued several alerts in connection with Tuesday night’s solar flare eruption.

Expect problems with things electrical. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, solar physicist Alex Young said when the material from the coronal mass ejection hits the Earth’s magnetic field — or magnetosphere — it causes the field to “ring like a bell,” or oscillate. The electrical currents generated by the oscillation move around in the upper atmosphere and can cause currents on the ground capable of disrupting power grids and affecting GPS and radio communications.

According to the NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center Facebook page, Wednesday was a “remarkable” day for space weather:

“Not only did we observe R3 – Radio Blackout storms due to a solar flare, but we are currently at S1 Solar Radiation storm levels. On top of this, the CME from the solar flare on 04 March arrived here at Earth around 0427 Z with G1 Geomagnetic Storm levels. This means almost every type of warning, alert, and watch that SWPC forecasters issue were issued today.”

A CME or Coronal Mass Ejection is a cloud of electrified, magnetic gas hurled into space at speeds as fast as 2,000 kilometers per second. When these CMEs strike Earth’s magnetic field, magnetic storms can result. The March 6 flare resulted in a CME which forecasters expect to reach Earth on March 8 or March 9.

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