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Published:February 25th, 2012 19:46 EST
Coronal Mass Ejection Expected in the Next 24-48 hours

Coronal Mass Ejection Expected in the Next 24-48 hours

By Ian Brockwell

A Coronal Mass Ejection that occurred on the 24th of February may affect the Earth sometime on the 26th or 27th.


According to reports the CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) is not expected to hit the Earth directly, but may cause a Geomagnetic Storm on a moderate G2 scale. Like Hurricanes and Tornados, the severity of the storm is rated in numbers (5 usually being the highest and most dangerous).


A G2 Geomagnetic Storm, according to the Space WeatherPrediction Center, is likely to produce the following results:

Power systems: high-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage.

Spacecraft operations: corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions.

Other systems: HF radio propagati.on can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho

The effects of a Geomagnetic Storm were first observed in the early 19th century and the largest occurred on the 1-2 September, 1859, commonly known as the 1859 solar superstorm or the Carrington Event. It was so powerful that telegraph operators received shocks and it caused fires. Aurorae, usually only seen near the poles, was witnessed as far south as Hawaii, Mexico, Cuba, and Italy.


Such large storms normally occur once every 500 years and smaller less notable storms have happened in 1921 and 1960, although a severe geomagnetic storm in 1989 did affect the Hydro-Québec power grid, leaving six million people without power for nine hours.


Whilst there is limited proof that such storms can affect humans (unless they are extremely strong), I often get quite bad headaches when they occur and this is something that others have mentioned as well.


A G5 Geomagnetic Storm is certainly capable of doing some damage and can potentially damage transformers and create voltage control problems. Thankfully, electronic devices were few and far between when the storm in 1859 hit our planet, which helped us to avoid more extensive damage.


This latest Geomagnetic Storm is unlikely to cause too many problems, but it may offer an opportunity of seeing aurora in more southern locations.

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