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Scientists are warning of chaotic satellites and power grid fluctuations as a solar storm is headed towards Earth for a "direct hit" within hours.
NASA has predicted that the solar storm caused by a coronal mass ejection (CME) – which is large amounts of plasma released from the Sun – will strike the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in geomagnetic storms.
Solar storms are ranked on a scale of "G1 Minor" – the least intense – to strongest "G5 Extreme" by the US Space Weather Center (SWPC).
The incoming storm has been classed by NASA as a G2-class geomagnetic storm, which is second in the scale. Here's the exact time the storm is expected to make an impact and potential disruptions it could cause.
When will the solar storm make impact?
The solar storm is expected to make a "direct hit" with Earth on Thursday, April 14, after which it is predicted to "intensify."NASA predicts it will hit around 1pm BST.
Space weather physicist Tamitha Skov tweeted: "Direct hit – solar storm prediction models from both NOAA and NASA show the storm hits April 14, just ahead of a fast solar wind stream.
"This should intensify the storm as the stream will give it a push from behind!"
What disruptions will the solar storm cause?
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Even the weakest solar storms are likely to cause power grid fluctuations and have at least a minor impact on satellite operations.
With the incoming storm, Tamitha Skov explained that the risk of radio blackouts remains low but that "amateur radio operators and GPS users face disruptions on Earth's nightside".
The incoming storms are predicted to also have a prettier consequence, as they are expected to cause auroras, like the famous Northern Lights.
NASA issues imminent solar storm warning – when is it and is it dangerous?
While most solar storms cause radio or even power blackouts, the stronger storms could be more dangerous, with likelihood of causing power outages that could last days.
Experts have warned that the Earth may not be ready for the potential impacts of a G5 storm, if it were to ever take place.
The SWPC explained: "During storms, the currents in the ionosphere, as well as the energetic particles that precipitate into the ionosphere add energy in the form of heat that can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit.
"The local heating also creates strong horizontal variations in the ionospheric density that can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS."
- Solar Storm
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