The sun has erupted with significant activity in the last few days, coming to life with solar flares and multiple coronal mass ejections. With this space weather due to impact Earth tomorrow and Wednesday, the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued Geomagnetic Storm Watches with geomagnetic storm conditions likely from May 25-27.
For now, a G1-Minor Geomagnetic Storm Watch is in effect for May 25 while a G2-Moderate Geomagnetic Storm Watch is in effect for May 26.
Scientists with the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center are monitoring this unfolding space weather event. While typically known for their weather forecasts, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its National Weather Service (NWS) is also responsible for “space weather.” While there are private companies and other agencies that monitor and forecast space weather, the official source for alerts and warnings of the space environment is the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The SWPC is located in Boulder, Colorado and is a service center of the NWS, which is part of NOAA. The Space Weather Prediction Center is also one of nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) as they monitor current space weather activity 24/7, 365 days a year.
This week’s forecast event is one of many solar events that have recently impacted Earth. A strong solar flare disrupted radio communications on May 22. A geomagnetic storm impacted Earth on May 18 and 19, triggering stunning aurora over northern latitudes. That event was caused by a coronal hole on May 14. On May 12, one of the strongest geomagnetic storms to impact Earth in a while hit, forcing the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a G3 – Strong- Geomagnetic Storm Warning. On May 2, a solar wind traveling at 1,118,468 mph struck Earth.
Experts have indicated that we are entering an active solar cycle now and incidents like this will increase with frequency and intensity in the coming months.
Geomagnetic Storms are ranked on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being the least significant and 5 being the potentially most catastrophic. Tomorrow’s G1 could cause weak power grid fluctuations, have minor impacts on satellite operations, and could generate aurora at high latitudes such as Michigan and Maine. Wednesday’s stronger G2 storm could create power system voltage alarms, transformer damage, harm satellites, disrupt radio signals, and send aurora even further south.