Forecasters at the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), a unit of the US Department of Commerce under NOAA, has issued a G2 geomagnetic storm warning for October 11.
Solar storms are rated on a scale from G1 to G5 – with one being the weakest and five having the most potential for damage. But even a G1 stomp’s can create issues for billions, as experts expect power grid fluctuations and minor impacts on satellite operations.
In a statement SWPC said: “Induced currents / power grid fluctuations can occur.
“High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms.
“Spacecraft – satellite orientation irregularities may occur, increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites is possible.”
The Sun is the primary cause of space weather.
The NOAA has issued a warning (Image: NOAA)
At times, the Sun can be thought of as going through a “stormy” period where its surface is more active than normal.
When this happens, it can send streams of energised particles out in all directions, which can be observed through the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights.
While these solar events can help illuminate the sky with stunning aurora, they can also do considerable harm to electronics, electrical grids, and satellite and radio communications.
Cyber security expert Chris Vickery wrote on Twitter: “Heads-up. Big solar flare observed and headed for Earth.
“Trajectory is going to be a direct hit. Expect low-level geomagnetic disruption.”
He added that the estimated time of impact was between 6am and 6pm today.
Solar storms are seen after coronal mass ejections from the Sun (Image: GETTY)
Spaceweather.com is reporting that a “halo” coronal mass ejection (CME)” has been spotted.
They explained: “This is called a ‘halo CME’ because CMEs heading directly for Earth seem to form a 360-degree halo around the Sun.
“CMEs heading directly away from Earth can form a halo, too, but that’s another story.”
“So far this year, dozens of CMEs have missed Earth. Many of them were near misses, provoking no more than minor geomagnetic unrest as they passed by.
“This time, however, the Sun is shooting straight.”
Many will be able to see enhanced auroras today (Image: GETTY)
It comes less than a month after scientists warned that a solar storm has the potential to unleash a devastating “Internet apocalypse”.
According to Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, a Professor of Computer Science and the study’s author, even a few minutes of a global Internet outage would be catastrophic.
And in a worst-case scenario, the outage could last for days or even months.
In her paper, titled Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse, Professor Jyothi wrote: “The Internet has played a key role in helping us deal with the coronavirus pandemic, a recent black swan event.
Satellites may face outages (Image: GETTY)
“However, Internet researchers and operators are mostly blind to another black swan event that poses a direct threat to Internet infrastructure.
“In this paper, we investigate the impact of solar superstorms that can potentially cause large-scale Internet outages covering the entire globe and lasting several months.
Major solar storms have lashed the planet in the past but these occurred before the advent of the Internet, satellite technology and high-speed communications.
The biggest solar storm on record occurred in 1859 and is known as the Carrington Event.