‘Strong’ geomagnetic storm to impact Earth
A moderate to strong storm will affect Earth thru August 19th
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Space Weather Prediction Center has issued geomagnetic storm watches for the period August 17-19 as the effects of a series of eruptions on the sun reach Earth.
The geomagnetic storm is forecast to peak Wednesday night into Thursday morning with an intensity of “strong” (G3). A “moderate” (G2) storm will occur Thursday night into Friday morning.
Storms of that intensity don’t occur as often as weaker G1 storms. That makes this event a bigger deal than those weaker events. Don’t worry, though, this storm isn’t going to cause blackouts and widespread problems in all likelihood.
This particular storm will send the northern lights farther south than normal. It will also be capable of causing some minor issues to technology infrastructure like radios, satellites, power grids and GPS. It would take a storm of G4 or G5 intensity to truly cause problems for us here on Earth.
The most noticeable impact will certainly be the northern lights. They will be visible farther south into the northern U.S. due to the interaction between a strong solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. This storm will get some extra “fuel” from some coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that occurred on the sun earlier this week.
When the charged particles contained within solar wind and CMEs arrive at Earth, they interact and collide with molecules high above the surface.
The result of these collisions? Varying colors in the northern sky -- headlined by green -- that we formally call the northern lights. Another name you may see for these beautiful light shows is aurora borealis.
The interaction of the sun’s charged particles and Earth’s magnetosphere can also lead to those technological problems. Mainly when the geomagnetic storms reach “severe” or “extreme” levels.
For Alabama there won’t be any noticeable impacts from this storm. The exception would be some minor technology or communications blips, but that chance is quite low with a storm of this magnitude.
The same can’t be said for the northern tier of the country...
If you or someone you know lives in or is visiting the northern third of the U.S. over the next two nights might I suggest venturing out and checking out the potential mesmerizing display of lights?
Copyright 2022 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.