Geomagnetic Storm Activity Predicted For September 9-10, 2011
The National Weather Service – Space Weather Prediction Center reported today that an R3 solar flare was in progress as of 6:37 PM EST. This solar flare comes after a similar flare was spawned from the same region of the sun less than 24 hours earlier. The SWPC is still collecting data from this latest outburst and does not yet know if this event will add to the G1 (minor) storm that is already headed for Earth with an anticipated impact on September 9-10, 2011.
Geomagnetic storms can be caused by solar flares and are a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere. During a geomagnetic storm, sections of the ionosphere will become unstable or disappear and auroras will be seen at the poles. In this latest event, the solar flares have been caused by the energetic sunspot # 1283.
Strong geomagnetic storms can wreak havoc on our communications systems and electrical grid – which is a reason the National Weather Service keeps an eye on them. Strong geomagnetic storms can cause radio signal blackouts, disruptions of navigation systems (GPS), damage to satellites, and power outages.
Since the sun is heading into a more active sunspot cycle, the potential for more frequent geomagnetic storms is a real possibility.
This is a summary of what actually happened. This information was provided to us by the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:
Category R1 (Minor) radio blackouts were observed on 05, 09, and 10 September due to flare activity from active sunspot Regions 1283 and 1286. An R2 (Moderate) radio blackout was observed on 08 September due to flare activity from sunspot Region 1283. R3 (Strong) radio blackouts were observed on 06-07 September from Region 1283.
A category G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm occurred on 09 September due to an earth directed coronal mass ejection. Category G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm conditions occurred on 10 September due to continued effects from the coronal mass ejection.