Incoming Solar Storm Expected to Disrupt GPS and Radio Signals Today

"A looming solar storm, driven by a coronal mass ejection, threatens GPS disruptions and heightened auroras as it barrels towards Earth. NOAA predicts potential geomagnetic storms, emphasizing the impact on satellites, radio waves, and the Earth's magnetic field."

NASA image of the sun spitting out a CME on Sunday, circled in white. The CME is due to hit Earth on Monday, triggering a geomagnetic storm. NASA SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY/SDO

Worldsfeed News Desk: A solar eruption on Sunday sent a magnetic filament hurtling toward Earth, carrying a coronal mass ejection (CME) set to collide with our planet at approximately 1 p.m. ET today, as predicted by NASA and NOAA models. The impending CME collision could generate geomagnetic storms reaching G2 or even G3 intensity, potentially causing disruptions to GPS signals, satellite operations, and the appearance of auroras further south than usual.

Space weather physicist Tamitha Skov shared the alert on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “Direct Hit! An impressive #solarstorm launch in the Earth-strike zone means a new chance for #aurora by midday Jan 22. We could see a G2-G3 with this one if the magnetic field of the storm is oriented correctly. Amateur radio & #GPS users, expect disruptions on Earth’s nightside.”

Coronal mass ejections occur when magnetic activity on the sun’s surface propels large volumes of solar plasma into space. The resulting cloud, if directed toward Earth, typically reaches our planet within 48 to 72 hours. Upon collision with Earth’s magnetic field, disturbances can lead to geomagnetic storms of varying strength, measured on a scale from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme) by NOAA.

The anticipated solar storm is forecasted to be G2, with a potential for G3, carrying the risk of several impacts on Earth. Voltage fluctuations in power grids, scrambled radio wave transmissions, and increased drag on satellites orbiting close to Earth may necessitate orbit adjustments. Huw Morgan, head of the Solar Physics group at Aberystwyth University, emphasized the disruptive potential of such storms on technology, stating, “Whilst these storms cannot harm us or nature directly, they are disruptive and potentially very damaging to technology.”

The more potent G3 and G5 geomagnetic storms could extend the visibility of auroras further south than usual. G3 storms might allow the Northern Lights to be seen from Illinois and Oregon, while G5 storms could make them visible as far south as Florida and southern Texas. In addition to technological disruptions, more powerful storms pose risks to power grids, communication systems, GPS navigation, and even aviation routes, impacting both satellites and astronauts.

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