Space weather experts expect ‘minor to moderate’ impacts to satellites and communications
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Yet another major area of activity has bubbled up on the surface of the sun, sending an X-class solar flare jetting toward Earth.
The wave of solar plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection, will spur a geomagnetic storm over the weekend. For now, the solar storm is only forecast to have minor to moderate impacts.
The peak of the solar storm are likely to be felt on Earth starting at about 11 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. The incoming energy will probably also trigger a spectacular display of northern lights in northern latitudes.
As the sun enters a more active phase, these types of sunspots have become more common recently, but it must have been a slow news day at the Washington Post, where Jason Samenow went ballistic over the fact that two different government agencies issued different forecasts for the event.
Samenow, writing in the popular Capital Weather Gang series, compared the situation to physical weather on Earth, claiming that conflicting forecasts with regard to a solar storm could lead to uncertainty, just as conflicting hurricane forecast information could result in public confusion on what to expect.
Of course, hurricane forecasts are uncertain at times, as Category 4 storms sometimes fizzle just before hitting land, while Category 1 storms sometimes suddenly intensify just before coming ashore.
Earth has been subject to numerous solar storms during past decades, and so far, has survived them all. It doesn’t seem worth stoking an artificial controversy over space weather forecasts.
I’m sure that, if federal experts really were expecting severe impacts from this event, they’d be letting everybody know in no uncertain terms.
To read some factual information on solar storms and their impacts on Earth, visit NASA’s space weather FAQ page.