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Another ‘severe’ geomagnetic storm Sunday could bring Northern Lights as far south as Alabama

todayMay 12, 2024 2

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Millions of people in the U.S. as far south as the Carolinas could be in for another dazzling display of the Northern Lights on Sunday night as Earth continues to be blasted by a historic geomagnetic storm that hasn’t been experienced in decades.A Strong Geomagnetic Storm Warning continues until 2 a.m. EDT on Monday morning. SEE MORE: EXTREME GEOMAGNETIC STORM TRIGGERS JAW-DROPPING AURORAS AROUND THE WORLDThe sky was filled with vibrant colors of green, pink and purple from the Northern Lights as far south as Florida and Texas on Friday night after a massive sunspot the width of 17 Earths spewed solar flares, leading to geomagnetic storm activity reaching Level 5 “extreme” conditions.THE HISTORY OF EARTH’S GREATEST SOLAR STORMSAfter a brief drop to Level 3 and 4 conditions, solar activity reenergized Saturday, and storms returned to Level 5 conditions, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).The SWPC said another series of coronal mass ejections (CME) associated with the solar flare activity in the same region over the past several days is blasting the Earth’s outer atmosphere Sunday.”By early Sunday and into Sunday night, the next major coronal mass ejections – moving at speeds of up to 1,800 kilometers per second (1,118 miles per second) – will begin to slam into the Earth’s magnetic field and reach the outer atmosphere,” the SWPC said.WHAT IS A GEOMAGNETIC STORM?Space weather forecasters say watches at that level are very rare, and the Northern Lights may be visible from Sunday night into early Monday over much of the northern half of the U.S. and maybe as far south as the Carolinas and Northern California.SOLAR SUPERSTORM COULD ‘WIPE OUT THE INTERNET’ FOR WEEKS OR MONTHS, SCIENTIST SAYSWith the SWPC forecasting the historic geomagnetic storm to continue and intensify on Sunday, millions of people across the U.S. face the possibility of seeing another spectacular display of the Northern Lights into early Monday morning.But who has the better viewing chances?In cities across the northern tier, from Seattle through Bismarck in North Dakota and Caribou in Maine, conditions will bounce back and forth between fair and good.However, some cloud cover may lead to poor viewing conditions at times.Light pollution may also disrupt viewing locations in cities like Chicago and New York City, but for people in the suburbs away from city lights, there could be some good viewing opportunities into early Monday morning.Unfortunately, if the Northern Lights do reach into cities and towns across the southern U.S., clouds could disrupt viewing opportunities there.This is especially true in Kansas City in Missouri and Nashville in Tennessee. While the Northern Lights were no doubt breathtaking to see, the geomagnetic storm did cause some issues.The SWPC reported that there were reports of power grid irregularities and degradations to high-frequency communications and GPS.The storm has also been a nightmare for farmers who rely on GPS for their work.John Deere customers were warned that its GPS network was “extremely compromised” due to the geomagnetic storm.”Please be advised that there is significant solar flare and space weather activity currently affecting GPS and RTK networks,” LandMark Implement said on X, formerly Twitter.The company said the network was sending out corrections affected by the geomagnetic storm and “were causing drastic shifts in the field and even some heading changes that were drastic.”That means there could be issues when it comes time to harvest crops.”When you head back into these fields to side dress, spray, cultivate, harvest, etc. over the next several months, we expect that the rows won’t be where the AutoPath lines think they are,” the company said. “This will only affect the fields that are planted during times of reduced accuracy.”In addition, SpaceX’s Starlink service warned on its website Saturday morning that it had experienced “degraded service,” though other details weren’t provided.NOAA PREDICTS STRONGER PEAK OF SOLAR ACTIVITY IN 2024 THAN ORIGINALLY ANTICIPATEDSpaceX head Elon Musk said on X, formerly Twitter, that the Starlink satellites were “under a lot of pressure, but holding up so far.”And SWPC officials said those who manage vulnerable equipment were briefed on the heightened solar activity.SWPC Coordinator Shawn Sahl said Friday that operators they coordinate with, like satellite and power grid operators, were notified of the magnitude of the geomagnetic storm so that they could take mitigation efforts throughout the event.This weekend’s Level 5 geomagnetic storm is the first to hit Earth since October 2003. That storm knocked out power in Sweden and damaged electrical transformers in South Africa.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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