A rare intense solar storm is headed for Earth. What consequences might this event have?

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A solar storm of rare intensity is heading toward Earth and could cause disruptions to power networks and satellites on Friday evening, as well as an impressive aurora borealis, US officials have warned, AFP reported.

“We are convinced that coronal mass ejections, which are bursts of energetic particles and magnetic fields coming from the Sun, are heading towards the Earth,” explained Shawn Dahl from the Center for Prediction Weather Service (SWPC), Agerpres writes.

A level 5 alert has been issued for a geomagnetic storm level 4, the first since 2005.

It is difficult to establish the exact moment of the start of the event, but the event is expected to last throughout the weekend.

“There could be an impact on infrastructure,” Shawn Dahl warned, saying it was a “very rare” occurrence. “We have notified all the operators we work with, such as satellite operators, communications operators and, of course, the North American electricity grid,” he added.

According to a cycle every 11 years, the Sun is currently near its maximum activity.

These coronal mass ejections, at least seven of which are currently headed toward Earth, originate from sunspots 16 times the diameter of Earth. These outflows move at speeds of several hundreds of kilometers per second.

When they reach U.S. satellites about 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, they can predict the severity of the event very well — between 20 and 45 minutes, Shawn Dahl said.

As with other storm warnings, he advised residents to arm themselves with batteries or generators.

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But electric operators have been working for 10 years to better protect their networks, said SWPC scientist Rob Steinberg. Effects can occur only on high-voltage lines, not on individuals, as there are systems comparable to, for example, circuit breakers.

GPS signals can also be affected, he said.

Regarding aviation, the US Civil Aviation Agency (FAA) announced that “no significant effects are expected”.

However, this event should produce aurora borealis, including in areas where they normally do not exist. SWPC officials would not comment on the extent of the affected area, but advised residents to get out and take photos.

“If you’re somewhere dark, cloudless and with little light pollution, you can see some beautiful aurora borealis,” explained Rob Steinberg.

Publisher: A.P

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