A huge solar storm will strike Earth on Thursday, potentially disrupting power grids and pushing the aurora as far south as Michigan and Maine.
Alerts issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration early Thursday morning ranked as a K-5 index (out of 9). A ranking of five or above is needed for the administration to issue an alert for upcoming solar storms.
Minor impacts to satellites, power grid fluctuations and a visible aurora were noted by NOAA. The highest geomagnetic storm category predicted thus far is a G2 storm on Feb. 18, which is considered “moderate” by NOAA’s rating scale.
At that point, the aurora might be visible in parts of New York, Wisconsin and the state of Washington.
Direct Hit! An Earth-directed #solarstorm is on its way. NASA & NOAA predictions show the time window for impact begins the afternoon of February 17. Once the storm hits, #aurora is possible to mid-latitudes. Expect amateur #radio & #GPS reception issues on Earth's nightside. pic.twitter.com/G2akVlaIad
— Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) February 15, 2023
Power fluctuations are likely to occur further north Saturday, with high-latitude power systems experiencing voltage alarms, as well as issues with satellite orientation, NOAA noted.
Details shared online by space weather physicist Tamitha Skov suggested that Earth will take a direct hit starting some time in the afternoon Friday. Amateur radio and GPS reception issues should be anticipated, according to her prediction.
Until just a month ago, most solar storms couldn’t be forecast until a few hours ahead of time. It’s unclear whether NOAA used the latest technology to predict the impending storm. In extreme situations, solar storms have the capability of destroying all electrical equipment on the planet.