Solar wind storm targets Earth

Space weather could cause communication problems

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist
NOAA

The dark spot is a coronal hole on the sun where solar wind can escape at high speeds toward the planet knocking out power and satellite communications.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The sun is pointing a shotgun at Earth shooting energized solar winds that could knock out satellites and light the night sky with aurora.

The arrival of high speed wind streams from the sun could cause disruptions in satellite operations and weak fluctuations on power grids which is why a G1 Minor geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for the March 14 and 15.

We are too far south in Jacksonville to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis but parts of northern Michigan or Maine may see the sun's flow of electrically charged electrons light up the sky as the particles collide with gas atoms in the upper atmosphere.

Space weather scientists know a storm is pointed at Earth because our planet is facing a "dark hole" on the sun. 

The dark coronal hole shown on the photo above from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) are cooler gases on the sun where weaker magnetic fields break away from the sun sending solar wind outward.

Like a hurricane scale, the weak power expected in this space storm is forecasted to barely reach G1 level.

The suns magnetic field is reaching into space driving the hot gases away from the suns outermost layer and toward the direction of our planet which can disrupt satellites.

This G1 storm level is a low impact event that happen about 1,700 times during every solar cycle. Solar cycles typically repeat every 11 years.

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