90% chance geomagnetic storms would hit Earth’s magnetic field on Nov 2-3: NOAA

Watch out for awe-inspiring Aurora Borealis on the northern skies
By @vitthernandez on
Aurora Borealis
A tourist takes photos of an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) over the Bals-Fiord north of the Arctic Circle, near the village of Mestervik late September 30, 2014. Reuters/Yannis Behrakis

There is a 90 percent chance that a fast-moving stream of solar wind would hit the Earth’s magnetic field on Nov 2 and 3, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center. The velocity of the wind could go beyond 800 kilometres per second.

It could also cause a strong G3-class geomagnetic storm, warns SpaceWeather.com. Sky watchers from as far south as Oregon and Illinois are alert for Northern Lights or an Aurora Storm Watch.

According to NOAA forecasters, during the first 24 hours, a high-speed solar wind stream, or a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), currently on its way toward the planet could produce a Kp number of 7 (which is strong). It could slow down slightly to 6 (moderate) during the next 24 hours, although these are just forecasts.

The real strength of the geomagnetic storms would only be known when it hits the Earth, according to Soft Serve News. The CMEs bring with it Aurora-causing particles.

Stronger CMEs could cause problems for satellites and electric grids by inducing currents since the CME cloud interacts with the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth. That disturbance causes the Northern Lights. Despite the possible disruption the storm could cause, it also creates the Aurora Borealis characterised by a faint green glow on the northern horizon to multicoloured, full-sky display. It is considered one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring nature scenes.

NOAA, which rarely issues a solar storm watch of this strength, warns of the possibility of power system voltage irregularities and increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites. It adds orientation problems could happen, including loss-of-lock and increased range error.  

The geomagnetic storm takes place just right after a skull-shaped comet flew near Earth on Halloween’s Day and barely a month after the blood moon occurred at the same time as the lunar eclipse. These natural phenomena have been used by doomsday prophets to warn of an Apocalypse.

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