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NOAA warns of possible severe geomagnetic storms this weekend

Published May 9th, 2024 4:27PM EDT
View of Earth from space
Image: studio023 / Adobe

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Earth may be in for some severe solar weather this weekend, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned. The agency says that severe geomagnetic storms are expected to hit our atmosphere as early as May 10 or May 11.

The NOAA has rated the possible storm as a G4, marking it as a severe storm. Other storms are also expected to hit this weekend, with an alert warning of a minor storm rated at G1, a severe storm on May 11, and a moderate G2 storm on May 12.

Further, the NOAA says that these warnings and watches supersede any and all prior watches that were in effect. The possible severe geomagnetic storm, and the rest of the members of this train, appear to come from recently released coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

The CMEs were released from the Sun, and are expected to merge together into the aforementioned “train” by late May 10 or early May 11. This means that Earth’s atmosphere will likely be hit with a barrage of solar energy over the weekend, creating disruptions in radio traffic, and possible aurora visibility in places the natural light shows might not normally extend.

There are, of course, several concerns with these severe types of geomagnetic events, the most important of which is the havoc they wreak on GPS and radio networks. GPS and cell phones could see some possible issues arising throughout the weekend, though they should pass before the weekend is over.

CMEs and the geomagnetic storms they sometimes create here on Earth are a very natural part of our solar system’s life cycle. And, as the solar cycle ramps up to reach its peak, the solar maximum, these CMEs are happening more and more frequently. And, when those parts of the sun are facing the Earth, our atmosphere is often hit with a deluge of solar energy in the process.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.