The huge solar storm that NASA detected hurtling toward Earth hit our planet at 5:42 a.m. EST Thursday. So far, there have been no reports of major power or communications disruptions. The storm’s magnetic fields are oriented in a way that’s “been opposite of what is needed to cause the strongest storming,” says the Space Weather Prediction Center.
So, the main effect of this storm, which the AP calls the largest in five years, may only be to paint colorful auroras across the night skies above Iowa, New York and Illinois. But it’s not the last you’ll hear about “Solar Flares Speeding Toward Earth,” as we told you yesterday. The sun is currently in a very active phase, and it won’t peak until 2013, according to NASA.
Solar Activity Forecast:
Solar activity is expected to continue at low to moderate levels with a chance for further X-class activity from Region 1429 for the next three days (09 – 11 March).
Geophysical Activity Forecast:
The geomagnetic field is expected to be unsettled to active with isolated minor to major storm periods possible on day 1 (09 March) as the Earth continues to be under the influence of the CME from 07 March. Quiet to unsettled conditions with isolated active periods possible are expected for days 2 – 3 (10 – 11 March).
How solar activity affects the Earth?
Many storms are benign; this storm could enable skywatchers to see the Northern Lights from parts of the northern US and northern UK. But the strongest storms can have other, more significant effects.
In 1972, a geomagnetic storm provoked by a solar flare knocked out long-distance telephone communication across the US state of Illinois. And in 1989, another disturbance plunged six million people into darkness across the Canadian province of Quebec.