The largest magnetic storm in two years, which hit Earth on Tuesday, is no joke, Russian scientists warned, saying that increased solar activity threatens electronics and people’s health. The phenomenon may divert spacecraft from their orbit and create problems for satellite communications and GPS navigation, the Laboratory of X-Ray Astronomy at the Lebedev Institute of the Russian Academy of Science said.
The surprise geomagnetic storm erupted during the early hours of May 14th when a crack opened in Earth’s magnetic field. Solar wind poured through the gap, igniting auroras over northern-tier US states like in Ohio, the Dakotas, and Wyoming. Radio interference and Aurora Borealis in unusual places will be the other side effect of the magnetic storm.
At its peak, the storm reached category G3 – one of the strongest in years. NOAA analysts think the instigating crack may have been opened by an early-arriving CME.
“During such events, the voltage in electrical systems may require correction. False triggering of safety systems is also possible,” the scientists warned.
But it’s not only hardware, but people as well, who will be affected. Those, who are aware that they are weather-sensitive, may feel discomfort and should take precautions.
If you missed the show, good news: More CMEs are coming. NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of geomagnetic storms this week to 75% as a series of CMEs approaches Earth. The action begins on May 15th when the first CME is expected to arrive and could continue through May 17th as additional CMEs follow. Storms levels will almost certainly reach category G1 (minor) with isolated periods of G2 (moderate) storming as well. Auroras could cross the US-Canadian border in the nights ahead.