Solar Radiation Storm Intensifies, Reaches Levels Only Seen A Few Times A Decade! Impacts To Our Planet Inside...
One of the largest sunspots in nearly a decade is facing earth right now creating one of the strongest solar storms in a decade! The sunspot is so large that the earth could fit inside it 3 times! Sunspot AR1944 yesterday produced an X1 class flare directed toward earth and NASA has a really wild video of the event.
Here is the video...
The X-class flare is actually the highest category of flares and we have seen the rating of the solar storm upgraded to "S3". An S3 solar storm is actually quite rare and only occurs 10 times a decade. Let me explain what this means for us on earth.
NOAA Definitition of S2 Class Solar Storm...
As of 6:20 pm EST, NOAA made the following statement...
"The ongoing S2 (Moderate) Solar Radiation Storm has intensified to an S3 (Strong) event as of 2320 UTC (6:20 p.m. EST) today, January 8. Protons should stay at this same approximate level for the next few hours, then likely take another jump with the passage of the shock ahead of the CME, expected to occur around 0900 UTC (4:00 a.m. EST) tomorrow, January 9. However, this increase is not expected to exceed the S3 level. The CME is forecast to set off G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity through January 9 and 10. Aurora watchers should be ready; updates here as things unfold."
NOAA defines an S3 solar storm as a "strong" solar storm. These only occur about 10 times per every 11 years making them pretty rare. The hazards they list are as follows...
- Biological: radiation hazard avoidance recommended for astronauts on EVA; passengers and crew in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes may be exposed to radiation risk.
- Satellite operations: single-event upsets, noise in imaging systems, and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panel are likely.
Other systems: degraded HF radio propagation through the polar regions and navigation position errors likely.
Should You Be Concerned?
From an impact standpoint,this adds increasing risk to high altitude flight and could affect astronauts. This also will likely affect some of our satellites. Finally, this will definitely affect radio signals in polar regionas and could cause GPS issues. With that said, it poses no threats to Kentucky or Indiana other than potentially a few inconveniences.
It will be interesting to see how far south the Aurora (Northern Lights) extend southward from the poles on Thursday, but either way we would be cloudy so you wouldn't get to see them even if a rare situation happened allowing them to be visible in Kentucky or Indiana. That is a real bummer. :(
It is winter storm season and if you want to be one of my storm spotters, you can join me on my facebook or twitter page. Just follow the link below and click "like" or "follow".
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