The National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G2 Moderate Geomagnetic Storm Watch for September 28-29, suggesting that solar wind from a coronal hole is streaming at the Earth from the sun at a high rate of speed. Originally, a G1 Minor Geomagnetic Storm Alert was issued but was upgraded to a level 2 event. The G2 warning is in effect through 0900 UTC, Monday, September 28.
Space weather experts with the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) are busy tracking and forecasting this solar event. The SWPC is located in Boulder, Colorado; it is a service center of the National Weather Service, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The SWPC is one of 9 National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) that monitors current space weather activity around the clock, year-round.
Geomagnetic storms, if strong enough, pose a threat to power grid operations. They can induce extra currents into the ground that can harm and disrupt the power grid, causing headaches for the operators. These storms also have the ability to degrade the accuracy of radio navigation systems such as GPS. Not all geomagnetic storm impacts are bad, though. One of the most enjoyable side-effects of a strong geomagnetic storm is that a vibrant aurora will glow in the sky over large areas. Aurora is also called “Northern Lights” in the Northern Hemisphere.
According to the National Weather Service, this unfolding geomagnetic storm could impact power systems on Earth, spacecraft operations, and radio transmissions. This storm could also create aurora, also known as the Northern Lights, far south. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms while long-duration geomagnetic storms may cause transformer damage. Corrective actions to orientation may need to be executed by ground control teams of spacecraft and satellites to limit impact; the impact may also produce possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions. Radio signals could be hampered, especially at higher latitudes. In a G2 Moderate Geomagnetic Storm event, aurora could be seen as low as New York and Idaho.
WHAT. A. NIGHT! 😳 Won’t be awhile till I process the 5500 pics from last night in Senja, Norway, but here are a few. It just kept on giving all night with @VincentVoyage @StormHour @TamithaSkov @INSVideos @chunder10 @B_Ubiquitous @dartanner @cogie_s @LiveAuroraNetw1 @treetanner pic.twitter.com/6h7O1UTgZS
— Adrien Mauduit (@NightLights_AM) September 26, 2020
Recent solar activity has triggered incredible aurora at northern latitudes in recent days. With the activity increasing, aurora could be more vibrant and/or be visible to even more people.
According to an updated 3-day space weather forecast issued by the SWPC this evening, the greatest expected three hour Kp for the period between September 28 and September 20 is 6, which is in the middle of NOAA’s G2 scale.