A solar storm is impacting the Earth today, and with a bigger impact than first expected. This massive solar storm may have the potential to impact power grids, radio signals and GPS. At the same time, this will give us here in the state the potential to witness the northern lights tonight.
The Space Weather Prediction Center has this storm ranked at a G4 (KP-8) severe geomagnetic storm. To give you an idea just how strong this is, the geomagnetic scale is rated from 1 to 5. This G4 storm is a result of two large eruptions that left the sun on Sunday.
So just what is a geomagnetic storm? As the Space Weather Prediction Center states, “A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere. The solar wind conditions that are effective for creating geomagnetic storms are sustained (for several to many hours) periods of high-speed solar wind, and most importantly, a southward directed solar wind magnetic field (opposite the direction of Earth’s field) at the dayside of the magnetosphere. This condition is effective for transferring energy from the solar wind into Earth’s magnetosphere.”
Early this morning, the auroras were visible across portions of eastern Iowa. Since this storm has increased in intensity since this morning, the auroras will be visible across the state. Clouds may be an issue tonight across northern Iowa tonight so this is something that we will have to watch. Continue to check back throughout the evening for more updates as our staff will be out looking to capture this storm!