Federal Agency Issues ‘Severe’ Geomagnetic Storm Alert

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A federal weather agency said that a ’severe’ geomagnetic storm is impacting Earth on Sunday and will be lasting until Monday.

A federal weather agency alert said that a “severe” geomagnetic storm is impacting Earth on Sunday and will be lasting until Monday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center on Sunday warned that a “major disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field” is occurring Sunday as it issued a G4, or “severe,” geomagnetic storm alert.

A sun coronal mass ejection arrived at around March 24 and that “severe (G4) geomagnetic storming has been observed and is expected to continue through the remainder” of Sunday and into Monday. It’s not clear if the storm has caused any damage to satellites or telecommunications.

“The public should not anticipate adverse impacts and no action is necessary,” the agency said. “But they should stay properly informed of storm progression by visiting our webpage.”

The agency said that operators of infrastructure “have been notified to take action to mitigate any possible impacts” such as “frequent voltage control problems.” There is also an “increased possibility of anomalies” to satellites, and “more frequent” periods of GPS degradation is possible,” NOAA said.

In a statement posted to X on Saturday, the agency issued a geomagnetic storm watch as a coronal mass ejection from the sun is on track to impact the Earth. The storms, according to the agency, could be “moderate” or “strong.” It later revised it up to G4 as the storm hit Earth on Sunday.

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The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute’s website signaled that it is forecasting high aurora borealis, or northern lights, activity until Monday evening “Forecast: Auroral activity will be high,” it said. “Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Utqiagvik to as far south as Kodiak and King Salmon.”
Elsewhere, as of 2:30 p.m. ET, the forecast offered by NOAA suggests that people in the northern portions of the lower 48 U.S. states may be able to see the northern lights on Sunday and Monday night. States with the best chance of seeing them are Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

But it still is not clear if the aurora borealis will be seen in the lower 48, said Eric Snitil, chief meteorologist at WROC-TV based in Rochester, New York. He said the northern lights may be visible if the storming stays into the night, adding that a G4 storm means that residents as far south as Alabama and California could see them.

“It is possible the best conditions will be wasted in the United States because it’s still daytime,” he said. “Bottom line, it’s now a wait-and-see game we’ll be playing. Folks on the other side of the planet are in for a real treat over the next few hours. Time will tell if this show has enough gas in the tank to keep going beyond nightfall locally,” he added.
According to NOAA’s website, a geomagnetic storm represents a disturbance in the Earth’s magnetosphere and takes place when the energy caused by solar wind impacts the area around the planet. Generally, they occur several days after an eruption on the surface of the sun.
The most recent solar flare that sparked the current geomagnetic storm occurred as the sun was approaching the peak of its current cycle, which started several years ago, says NOAA’s website in a recent article.

“As we approach the peak of Solar Cycle 25, we should expect to see more sunspots, each of which is a region of intense magnetic activity capable of producing solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs,” NOAA says. “This period of elevated activity can last up to several years, with impactful space weather events possible in 2024.”

Over the years, there have been warnings that exceptionally strong solar flares may cause mass disruptions on Earth. Some researchers say that such an event could upend modern human civilization as it would cause worldwide chaos due to severe impacts on electronics, telecommunications, and power grids across the globe.

“Extreme solar storms could have huge impacts on Earth. Such super storms could permanently damage the transformers in our electricity grids, resulting in huge and widespread blackouts lasting months,” Tim Heaton, professor of applied statistics in the School of Mathematics at the University of Leeds, told the Independent newspaper last year.

“They could also result in permanent damage to the satellites that we all rely on for navigation and telecommunication, leaving them unusable. They would also create severe radiation risks to astronauts.”



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