A solar storm is heading towards Earth: why electrical problems are to be expected

An alert issued by the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that a geomagnetic storm is expected to hit Earth on October 11 and could cause fluctuations in the power grid, especially at higher latitudes, where Earth is more exposed.

Meteorologists from the US atmospheric observation center, under the federal administration, NOAA, modeled the trajectory of the coronal mass ejection called CME, and which would be in the direction of the Earth. By refining the analyzes, the researchers confirmed that it will likely arrive this October 11.

These storms are “coronal mass ejections”, also known as “Halo CME”. They correspond to solar flares which go directly towards the Earth. Scientists have discovered that they form a halo around the sun, a sign of strong solar projection.

This October 11, the expected phenomenon has its origin with the identification of a sunspot called AR2882 and which projected a coronal mass ejection towards the Earth a few days earlier, according to NOAA surveys. Coronographers have indeed recorded the solar storm cloud coming almost directly towards our planet. This storm is expected in the coming hours and the phenomenon should last 24 hours.

The NOAA SWPC expects the M1.6 CME to arrive after midday tomorrow, Monday 11 October.

A moderate G2 (Kp6) geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for tomorrow evening. CME effects should persist into Tuesday, 12 October and could be followed by the onset of a coronal hole stream. pic.twitter.com/Fw5CAQeRV1

– SpaceWeatherLive (@_SpaceWeather_) October 10, 2021

It remains to be seen what this mass ejection, that is to say this solar storm, can cause by approaching the earth. For starters, auroras could become visible from latitudes such as Tasmania in Australia, Scotland, southern Sweden and the Baltic States. The northern states of the United States should also remain vigilant as dusk approaches in case we expect geomagnetic storm conditions.

NOAA added that the satellites could be hit and could exhibit “orientation irregularities,” meaning ground control would have to recalculate their orbit to redirect them.

The geomagnetic storm could reach category G2, which is moderately strong according to the agency.

But the storm expected on October 11 is expected to be of lesser intensity than the Carrington Event, the historic geomagnetic storm dating from 1859, and considered the most powerful solar storm on record in history with data.

It is in any case the largest coronal mass ejection or solar flare, CME. On August 28, aurorae were indeed observed as far as Colombia. The peak in intensity occurred on September 1 and 2 and caused the failure of telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America.

The first signs of this incident were detected from August 28, 1859 when the Northern Lights were seen across North America. Intense shades of light were observed from Maine to Florida. Even in Cuba, ship captains recorded the appearance of coppery lights near the zenith in their logbooks.

At this time, telegraph cables, an invention that had started working in 1843 in the United States, suffered cuts and short circuits that caused numerous fires, both in Europe and North America.

Auroras have been observed in areas of middle latitudes, such as Rome or Madrid and even in areas of low latitudes such as Havana, Hawaii, Colombia, etc.

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