Internet outages, northern lights… A solar storm is coming to Canada

Internet outages, northern lights… A solar storm is coming to Canada
Internet outages, northern lights… A solar storm is coming to Canada

There National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the United States predicts that the geomagnetic storm forecast for Friday could be the strongest in almost 20 years.

Since Wednesday, scientists have observed a series plasma explosions and magnetic fields from the solar coronawe read in a press release from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNOAA published Friday. These explosions are called coronal mass ejections (EMC).

These [éjections de masse coronaleEMC] can go in any direction away from the sun, but these go towards the Earth. They are expected to reach Earth Friday evening and Saturday. There is a series of four or five of themexplain Kyle Reiterspace weather analyst for Natural Resources Canada.

Northern lights could then be visible almost everywhere in Canada, including in regions where they are almost never seen.


Northern lights, like this one in Gaspésie, could be visible as far away as the middle of the United States. (Archive photo)

Photo: Gaspésie Amateur Astronomers Club

It will also cause disruptions to things like high-frequency radio communication in aviation. It is also possible that this could cause the voltage in the electrical networks to fluctuate.says Mr. Reiter.

Magnetic fluctuations could also disrupt satellite signals, meaning GPS systems could experience misfires during this time.

The deposition of energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere, the ionosphere, can disrupt radio communications. Suddenly, the upper layers of the atmosphere become opaque to radio waves, so we lose contact with GPS, communications satellites.

In 1989, a geomagnetic storm caused a widespread blackout (new window) for nine hours in Quebec. Mr. Reiter However, space weather technology and monitoring have come a long way since then.

An event of the same intensity as that of 1989, I would tell you today would not cause a power outage, because the electric companies have learned […] to protect networksadds the professor.

He believes it would take an exceptionally intense storm to cause this type of problem.

We will perhaps feel it a little more at the level of communications, GPS, everything related to satellite communications, ultimatelyhe believes.

Experts emphasize that the intensity of the storm is difficult to predict and depends a lot on the exact timing of the arrival of the plasma projections and the fluctuation of their magnetic fields.



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