National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather
Prediction Center (SWPC)—the nation’s official source of warnings and alerts
about space weather and its impacts on Earth—has issued a watch for a
geomagnetic storm associated with a bright flare on the sun Sunday evening. The
storm could arrive Tuesday (Jan. 24, 2012) morning, with possible impacts to
navigation, the power grid, and satellites.
Prediction Center (SWPC) forecasters have
also issued a warning for ongoing “strong” solar radiation storming.
Radiation storms are a concern for astronauts, communications at high
latitudes, satellites in space, and rocket launches. Geogmagnetic storms (G-scale) and solar radiation
storms (S-scale) range from 1 (minor) to 5 (extreme).
This event represents the
strongest radiation storm in more than six years.
with Sunday’s flare was a coronal mass ejection (CME), a burst of charged
particles and magnetic field that streamed out from the sun at about four
million miles an hour. The CME is heading toward Earth. NOAA’s SWPC predicts it
will trigger onset of a geomagnetic storm on Tuesday morning EST, with storm
intensity likely to be moderate (G-2), possibly strong (G-3).