REMARKS: THIS SUPERSEDES ANY AND ALL PRIOR WATCHES IN EFFECT. NOAA PREICTS CAT G3 GEOMAGNETIC STORM 13-14 SEPT WITH INDUCED CURRENTS CAUSING POWER SYSTEM VOLTAGE IRREGULARITIES, PRIMARILY POLEWARD OF 50 DEG. GEOMAGNETIC LATITUDE, APPROX 44 DEG. NORTH GEODETIC LATITUDE.
*STORM WARNING (UPDATED): *Among space weather forecasters, confidence is building that Earth’s magnetic field will receive a double-blow from a pair of CMEs on Sept. 12th. The two storm clouds were propelled in our direction by explosions in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2158 on Sept. 9th and 10th. Strong geomagnetic storms are possible on Sept. 12th and 13th as a result of the consecutive impacts. Sky watchers, even those at mid-latitudes, should be alert for auroras in the nights ahead. From Spaceweather.com
There has been much ado over today’s latest CME that has preppers and ham radio operators all worked up. But are they right to be concerned? I posed the question to a couple of our more astute and experienced AmRRON operators with a better understanding than I have, of the physics and electronic affects today’s X-Class solar flare could have.
Big boy in progress, peaked 1.7, waned to 1.1 http://www.ips.gov.au/Solar/1/7
Comes on tail end of yesterday’s CME http://www.spaceweather.com/ Estimated glancing blow 12 Sep UT.
From JJS: “In your estimation and research, at what point do you/we/they believe
there would be a high probability of disruption of electronics or EMP-type disruption?”
Looking at recent historical events, in March 1989 a very large X15 event caused a geomagnetic storm here on earth several days later that resulted in damage to satellites in polar earth orbit and a grid failure in Quebec, Canada. You are talking about an earth directed CME (coronal mass ejection) that cranks up the earth’s geomagnetic field resulting in grid surges. So I think there would be some useful warning for a solar generated event that you wouldn’t get from a HEMP burst (nuclear) where there would be no warning. You can read about it here:
Since the mid 90’s we’ve been watching and collecting data on solar events. There are several footnotes at the end of the Wikipedia article that may be illuminating.
The granddaddy of solar events was the so called Carrington Event in
1859 when there wasn’t much infrastructure to be damaged, but it did toast some telegraph circuits. Of course no one was measuring solar event data back then. Read about Carrington here:
The short answer to your question is that I don’t know what the lower threshold would be because we don’t have that much data to draw from.
Just hope the Ionosphere recovers from the X-Ray smackdown before the digital net this evening.
Excellent question. The flare, per se, is really a leading indicator of potential impact – although there is debate as to real cause-effect relationship. It’s the associated coronal mass ejection (CME) that takes a bit longer to get here, and the impact it has on the magnetosphere that is the concern. The CME impact anticipated for the 12th is a result of the M4 flare a few days ago.
When a CME hits, the shockwave causes the magnetosphere on the leading daylight side of earth to compact, and creates a tail / expansion on the trailing night side. It’s when that rebounds, that extremely high levels of energy are released into the atmosphere. That’s where the induced current problem can occur for electronics.
I know it seems like I’m dragging out what should be a simple answer, but we have to drop another level. What get’s measured is the disruption to the magnetosphere – particularly the X-ray, proton flux, and electron flux measurements. The X-ray index corresponds pretty well to the level of solar flare.
There is an excellent table at
that summarizes anticipated impacts.
Long story short, X1 is “strong”, and I wouldn’t expect a “Carrington 1859” style event until X20 or above. NASA puts a 12% probability of such an event hitting during the current peak-to-peak solar cycle of 2012 to 2022.
More information available here:
Space Weather News for Sept. 10, 2014 http://spaceweather.com
X-FLARE: Active sunspot AR2158 erupted on Sept. 10th, producing a strong X1.6-class solar flare. Because the sunspot is directly facing Earth, this is a geoeffective event. HF radio blackouts and other communications disturbances have already been observed on the day-lit side of Earth.
Stay tuned to http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates about the possibility of an Earth-directed CME and geomagnetic storms in the days ahead. DON’T MISS THE STORM: Aurora alerts are available from http://spaceweathertext.com (text) and http://spaceweatherphone.com (voice).
ADDED 9/11/14 at 1530hrs Zulu