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A strong-to-severe (Kp=8) geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) at approximately 8:15a.m. EDT (12:15 UT) on Sept. 26. The Goddard Space Weather Lab reported a strong compression of Earth's magnetosphere. Simulations indicate that solar wind plasma has penetrated close to geosynchronous orbit starting at 9am.
Sunspot 1302 has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22 and X1.9 on Sept. 24th). Each of the dark cores in this image from SDO is larger than Earth, and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic field is currently crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into larger eruptions as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth.
Since the X1.9-flare, active region (AR) 1302 has unleashed M8.6 and M7.4 flares on Sept. 24 and an M8.8 flare early on Sept. 25. None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.
Paraphrased Excerpt from Testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security:
"One example of a physical threat is an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event. An EMP may also be a naturally-occurring event caused by solar flares and storms disrupting the Earth’s magnetic field. A solar storm, according to an article in Scientific American, could “severely damage satellites, disable radio communications, and cause continent-wide electrical black-outs that would require weeks or longer to recover from."
** end of testimony **
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is defined as a burst of electromagnetic radiation resulting from a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field. The resulting electric and magnetic fields may couple with electrical/electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges.
NOAA Space Weather Scale for Geomagnetic Storms:
G5: Some power grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Pipeline currents can reach hundreds of amps. HF (high frequency) radio propagation may be impossible in many areas for days at a time. Satellite navigation may be degraded for days; low-frequency radio navigation can be out for hours. Auroras seen at low latitudes.
G4: Possible widespread power system voltage control problems; protective systems will mistakenly trip out key assets from the grid. HF radio propagation sporadic. Satellite navigation degraded for hours. Low-frequency radio navigation disrupted. Auroras seen at mid-to-low latitudes.
G3: Power system voltage corrections may be required; false alarms triggered on some protection devices. Intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur. HF radio may be intermittent. Aurora has been seen as mid-latitudes.
G2: High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage. HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes. Auroras visible at high-to-mid-latitudes.
G1: Possible weak power grid fluctuations. Migratory animals affected. Auroras commonly visible at high latitudes.
NOAA Space Weather Scale for Solar Radiation Storms:
S5: Radiation risk in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes. Satellites may be rendered useless. Permanent damage to solar panels possible. Complete blackout of HF (high frequency) communications possible in polar regions. GPS/radio-navigation extremely unreliable.
S4: Radiation risk in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes. Degradation of satellite and solar panel efficiency. Blackout of HF radio communications through the polar regions. Increased GPS/radio-navigation errors.
S3: Radiation risk in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes. Sporadic satellite interference. Degradation of HF radio propagation in polar regions. GPS/radio-navigation errors likely.
S2: May be high-flying aircraft radiation risk at high latitudes. Infrequent satellite single-event upsets possible. Small effects on HF propagation and GPS/radio-navigation.
S1: No biological concerns. No satellite concerns. May be occasional HF radio static.
NOAA Space Weather Scale for Radio Blackouts:
R5: Complete HF (high frequency) radio blackout on sunlit side of the Earth for periods lasing several hours. GPS/radio-navigation outages planet-wide.
R4: HF communications blackout on most of the sunlit side of Earth for one to two hours. Minor GPS/radio-navigation disruptions.
R3: Wide area blackout of HF communications for periods of approximately an hour on sunlit side of Earth. GPS/radio-navigation degradation.
R2: Limited HF blackouts. Limited GPS/radio-navigation degradation.
R1: Minor degradation of HF communications. Minor GPS/radio-navigation degradation for brief periods.
A strong-to-severe (Kp=8) geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) at approximately 8:15a.m. EDT (12:15 UT) on Sept. 26.
IB. Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to remain at moderate levels on day one (27 September). Low to moderate levels are expected on day two (28 September) and predominantly low levels are expected on day three (29 September). Region 1302 remains the most active Region on the disk but has only produced one M-class event over the past 24 hours.