2022-08-10

One of the most active regions of the sun erupted recently, and Earth is now bracing for a strong ‘G3’ category geomagnetic storm on Thursday (March 31). US space agency NASA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm watch for tomorrow.

A strong G3 storm may affect power systems as well as disrupt HF radio communications causing disturbance and blackout. It can also affect satellites. As per SWPC the geomagnetic storm is expected to occur after the arrival of the said CME during early evening of March 30 into early morning of March 31 (EDT).

“Possibility of flare induced severe ionospheric perturbations and hazardous radiation environment exists over next few days,” tweeted Center of Excellence in Space Sciences India, IISER-Kolkata, which keeps a watch on solar activity.

How a strong G3 geomagnetic storm can affect power systems, satellites and other technologies?

As per SWPC’s Space Weather Scales, a G3 storm can induce the need to make voltage corrections on power systems. Surges can also trigger false alarms on some protection devices.

Satellites make be affected with surface charging and increased drag on spacecraft in the low-Earth-orbit satellites. Spacecraft orientation related corrections may be needed. G3 storms can also cause intermittent satellite navigation and LF radio navigation issues, can make HF radio intermittent.

In terms of sky view, aurora have been seen in G3 storms typically till 50° geomagnetic latitude. As per SWPC, the “impacts to technology from a G3 storm generally remain small.”

Software/ Hardware/ Network changes postponed

In the US, the National Weather Service is postponing all software/ hardware/ network changes till the weekend. Matthew Capucci, an American atmospheric scientist, wrote on Twitter, “The National Weather Service is postponing any software/hardware/network updates until after this weekend That’s because a potentially significant G3 geomagnetic storm is probable, with a major G4/G5 storm not impossible.”

While a strong G3 storm can have some consequences, a G4 or G5 geomagnetic storm could have graver impact on electricity grids, which can affect power, satellite communications, computers and the internet.

Apart from the G3 warning on Thursday, SWPC also has a G1 (Minor) watch is in effect for March 30, and a G2 (Moderate) for April 1.

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