A solar storm likely to hit the Earth this week might make a pretty light show in the sky, but is likely to occur without causing any of the harm that some doomsayers are warning of.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) refuted reports that a substantial storm will disrupt telecommunication systems over the weekend.
And they would know: Not only does NOAA help people build forecasts for weather here on Earth, they also predict space weather events like geomagnetic storms.
So what does this G1 storm mean for Earth? The weather in the space is quite cool and there is no imminent threat of any type of geomagnetic storm. As Newsweek further noted, his comments came shortly after most publications who wrote on Monday about the purported storm had apparently misinterpreted a chart from the Lebedev Institute in Russian Federation that suggested the likelihood of increased geomagnetic activity on March 18, but nothing hinting at a major storm.
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According to NOAA, the worst possible scenario on that day would be a minor magnetic storm. The most extreme storms can impact satellites and disrupt power grids on Earth.
Geomagnetic storms are caused by high levels of radiation which are shot by intense solar events like Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) or other solar events. The category rises from G1 to G5 with the increase in the intensity of the geomagnetic storms.
The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event in 1859, aimed after Brit astronomer Richard Carrington, which electrified telegraph lines and shocked technicians, setting their papers on fire - it was visible as far as Cuba and Hawaii.
However, even though it won't be the case here, NOAA admitted that a severe magnetic storm could alter the proper functioning of the satellites, therefore, some communication pieces of equipment wouldn't correctly function. A similar geomagnetic storm happened in 1989 which caused a 9-hour blackout in Canada.
In fact, NOAA admits that a geomagnetic storm will hit the Earth on March 18th but this one will not even reach the G1 magnitude, therefore, it can't affect the satellites, the Global Positioning System equipment, or other communication means, as the Russians informed. When compared to 1859, yet another similarly intense storm was seen in 2012 which disrupted power grids, however, it was not too unsafe since it flyby near Earth with a margin of nine days. The upcoming storm will put quite a show for stargazers around the world who can assemble at a flawless spot to watch the auroral lights and other natural phenomena that follows.
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