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Extreme G5 geomagnetic solar storm reported after unusual solar activity

Sat 11 May 2024    
| 2 min read

Geomagnetic storms can impact infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on Earth’s surface, potentially disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations.

Colorado, USA: On Friday, a really strong G5 geomagnetic storm hit Earth, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. They had warned earlier in the day that something big might happen.

This storm came after a few days of lots of solar activity, like explosions of plasma and magnetic fields coming our way from the sun.

G5 is the highest level of geomagnetic storm, and it can cause major problems. It might mess with power systems and even cause blackouts. It can also disrupt things like radio signals and satellite navigation.

The last time we had a G5 storm was in October 2003, and it caused power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

But there’s a bright side to these storms too! They can make the northern lights, or aurora borealis, visible much farther south than usual. Some people in Alabama and Northern California might get to see them.

NOAA had actually been keeping an eye on this storm since Thursday. They said it all started on May 8 when a big group of sunspots produced some really strong solar flares. These flares are like huge explosions of energy from the sun.

The biggest sunspot in all of this is called AR3664. It’s so big you might even be able to see it with special glasses for looking at solar eclipses. It’s been causing most of the activity we’ve seen on Friday.

NOAA says this whole thing is pretty rare. There have been lots of explosions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s outer atmosphere heading toward Earth. At least five of them are on the way and could reach us by Friday afternoon and stick around until Sunday.

Reports started coming in for views of the sky changing due to the solar storm.

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