I like solar storms to a point. They produce awesome northern lights and auroras. And so far this week we have had solar winds from a coronal hole (in the sun), a couple of solar flares and a couple of CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) but this morning we have had the largest and most powerful solar flare and CME in 8 years and it’s headed directly for us.
Today the first of three CMEs has already hit and a second is about to. Both of those are large but either grazed us or while large are not damaging. But the one coming behind them is faster, larger and going to hit us directly. This one is going to hit an already loaded magnetosphere and hit it hard. The probable effects are that there will be some disruption of communications and some issues with gps sats. The worst possible effects but not probable are surges of electric energy in long distance high voltage power lines and a few busted electrical transformers. But the power companies know what is coming and will take precautions so it shouldn’t be an issue.
With this largest CME and flare of the cycle so far, an X5 class there will be spectacular opportunities to see auroras. The predictions are that they will be visible in mid latitudes such as England, Most if not all of Canada and some northern US States and other similar latitudes. Here it will be cloudy but I will be searching for webcams and trying to see it that way. Hopefully someone will post pictures to wordpress and or Google plus.(image from http://spaceweather.com)
- Sun Fires Off 2 Huge Solar Flares in One-Two Punch (space.com)
- Huge Solar Flare’s Magnetic Storm May Disrupt Satellites, Power Grids (space.com)
- Solar Flares: A User’s Guide (Infographic) (space.com)
- Giant solar storm headed for Earth could disrupt power grid, air travel (theglobeandmail.com)