Major Solar Storm to Hit Earth Today Causing GPS Outages

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Major Solar Storm to Hit Earth Today Causing GPS Outages

A large geomagnetic storm is expected to hit the Earth’s atmosphere later today and disrupt radio and GPS, according to models by both NASA and NOAA.

The flare was spat out from the sun’s surface on Sunday, with the coronal mass ejection (CME) set to collide with the Earth at around 1 p.m. ET.

Experts have warned that the CME collision could lead to G2-class or even G3-class storms, triggering GPS issues and satellite problems.

Space weather physicist Tamitha Skov posted on X, formerly Twitter:

“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.”

As Newsweek reported:

“CMEs are triggered by magnetic activity on the sun’s surface flinging out huge volumes of solar plasma. This cloud, if aimed toward the Earth, approaches our planet in around 48 to 72 hours, though some can arrive much sooner. When the plume collides with the Earth’s magnetic field, it can cause disturbances that trigger a geomagnetic storm.”

“Geomagnetic storms are measured on a scale of their strength, from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme), according to NOAA. The strength of the storm depends on the power of the CME that triggers it, with more powerful storms being rarer: per 11-year solar cycle, the Earth can expect around 1700 G1 storms, but only about 100 G4 storms and a mere 4 G5 storms during that same period.”

The upcoming solar storm is predicted to be G2, with a chance of G3, which can result in strange impacts across Earth.

The flares are expected to affect power grids radio wave transmissions, and also satellites orbiting close to the Earth may experience increased drag.

“Whilst these storms cannot harm us or nature directly, they are disruptive and potentially very damaging to technology,” Huw Morgan, head of the Solar Physics group at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, told Newsweek.

“Electric currents are induced in Earth’s crust, and this can cause surges and damage to power grids. Communications can be disrupted, and GPS navigation. Air flights at high latitudes are prone to radiation doses, requiring cancellation or rerouting. And there’s a danger to satellites and astronauts.”

Large geomagnetic storms can cause auroras to be seen further south from the North Pole, with Northern Lights visible from Illinois and Oregon.

This is due to the plasma reaction with charged particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing gases like nitrogen and oxygen to glow.

“The magnetic disruption penetrates further into Earth’s magnetosphere, and a larger amount of space plasma is injected into Earth’s system, and this can also reach lower latitudes,” Morgan said.

“This energetic plasma interacts with molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, causing the lights. In a very large storm in 1859 (the Carrington event), the lights were seen at the equator and were very bright.”