Solar storm to disrupt communications, produce auroras

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Boulder, CO, United States (4E) – Solar flares that erupted from the Sun on Tuesday are expected to cause geomagnetic storms that disrupt communications and trigger stunning auroras on Thursday and Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected the solar flares or coronal mass ejection (CME) of the G3 class coming from the sunspot region called AR 1944. The CME and its magnetic shockwaves hit the Earth’s magnetic field around 3 p.m. EST but the impact was initially weak, NOAA forecasters said, according to Spaceweather.com.

Some airlines have changed routes to avoid communications disruption, said Joe Kunches at NOAA’s Space Weather Office in Boulder, Colorado.

High-frequency radio, GPS applications and possible power grid transients are also disturbed during a geomagnetic storm.

On Wednesday, NASA postponed launching from Virginia’s eastern shore of the Cygnus cargo spacecraft that will deliver supplies to the International Space Station as solar flares have intense radiation that poses threat to satellites and astronauts in orbit.

The solar storm is also expected to intensify the northern lights and produce dazzling auroras that could be seen as far south as Seattle, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland and Boston.

Depending on the weather, exceptional auroras will likely dance over a large swathe of Alaska and Canada, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks forecasted on Thursday.

The sky spectacle can also be seen from Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland, the British Geological Survey said.

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