A week of fun Halloween activities has been cancelled. The National Weather Service has issued a watch for tomorrow, Oct. 31st, through early next week. And no, that’s not an optical illusion.
A particularly intense solar flare — one that can trigger so-called geo-magnetic storms — is said to have been observed at 3:07 p.m. EDT today. It’s already being called an X-class flare, the strongest level. Researchers believe it may not have produced any high-level electromagnetic charges on the earth in itself, but the outburst may have unleashed enough magnetic activity to create very specific magnetic loops around the planet. Those lines can cause electrical currents to occur, possibly affecting electronic devices, like those used in television and computer operations.
The ripple can then propagate to similar places around the globe, which is all part of the reason why the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center sent an emergency alert out to every region of the planet: “Geomagnetic storms expected to affect West Coast, Gulf Coast and Southeast.”
A geomagnetic storm is extremely rare in the Earth’s orbit because it occurs when some very powerful magnetic flares erupt on the sun. If it affects the Earth and triggers power grids or communications, the results may be more dramatic than normal.