According to NOAA Space Weather forecasters, a powerful G3-class geomagnetic storm is in progress on August 26th as Earth passes through the wake of a coronal mass ejection (CME) that arrived with little notice approximately 24 hours ago. Strong magnetic fields in the CME’s wake have cracked into Earth’s magnetosphere, allowing solar wind to enter. So far auroras have been sighted in Scandinavia, Canada, and northern-tier US states such as Michigan and New York.
“The geomagnetic field is expected to be at active to G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm levels on day one (26 Aug) due to continued influence from the 20 Aug CME. Quiet to active conditions, with a slight chance for G1 (Minor) storm conditions, are likely on day two (27 Aug) with quiet to unsettled levels likely on day three (28 Aug) as CME effects gradually wane,” said the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center.
Steven Herman, the White House bureau chief of Voice of America (VOA News), reported the strong geomagnetic storm on earlier Sunday morning. He shared a note listing the potential impacts of the storm, which included power systems, spacecraft, satellite communication networks, and even radio disruptions.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) August 26, 2018
The K-index, a chart that measures the earth’s magnetic field with an integer in the range 0–9 with 1 being calm and 5 or more indicating a geomagnetic storm, hit the 4 threshold was reached at 21:43 UTC on August 25, followed by K-index of 5 (G1 Minor) at 01:54 UTC on August 26, K-index of 6 (G2 Moderate) at 02:57 and K-index of 7 (G3 Strong) at 05:59 and 07:38 UTC.
G3 Strong geomagnetic storm potential impacts:
Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents – Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.
Spacecraft – Systems may experience surface charging; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites and orientation problems may occur.
Navigation – Intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, including loss-of-lock and increased range error may occur.
Radio – HF (high frequency) radio may be intermittent. Aurora – Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.
Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather forecaster, warned “this solar storm may have a predictable magnetic field, so for emergency responders to Hurricane Lane, I offer this worst case. We will likely reach solar storm conditions (Kp5-Kp6) for the next 6-8 hours at least. Expect mid-latitude aurora, & poor ham radio!”
Out on a Limb! This #solarstorm may have predictable magnetic field, so for #emergency responders to #HurricaneLane, I offer this worst case. We will likely reach #solarstorm conditions (Kp5-Kp6) for the next 6-8 hours at least. Expect mid-latitude #aurora, & poor #hamradio! pic.twitter.com/k6ADMadM7M
— Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) August 25, 2018
What did people around the world see?
Taken by John McKinnon on August 26, 2018 @ Four Mile Lake, Alberta, Canada (Source/ SpaceWeather.com)
The light from the full moon didn’t stop the aurora from being seen in Southern New Hampshire (the “marshmallow field” in Rollinsford) but those clouds were a real heartbreaker on August 26, 2018 (Source/ @RobWrightImage)
Full moon G3 Aurora captured over the Range Lighthouse where the #SaugeenRiver meets LakeHuron in Southampton Ontario Canada August 26, 2018 (Source/ @scottrockphoto)
The aurora was out early this morning over Decker, Montana. A green band was faintly visible for hours despite the smoke and bright moonlight (Source/ @krp234)
“A Crack Opened In Earth’s Magnetic Field And Plasma Started Pouring in last night,” said Ben Davidson, the founder of Mobile Observatory Project, ObservatoryProject.com.
He also said, “over the next 24-hours, we are in an elevated cardiac and psychological risk, and will be looking for large disruption into electronics, especially in large-scale power, communications, and transportation industries.”
Ben Davidson warned early Sunday about significant power system failures because of the geomagnetic storm. Moments ago, New York metro train number 7 had just lost power (unconfirmed).
— Khaled Sayed (@khaledfilms) August 26, 2018
While everyone was blaming the Russians last year about US power grid failures, we pointed out that a geomagnetic stormcould have been the reason why power disruption in San Fransisco, New York, and Los Angeles occurred all at once.