Two days ago, on April 21st, the sun belched forward a CME that has reached Earth earlier than expected, and this one has some clout behind it.
Notices started hitting my inbox just after 10 AM today. Those first notices went mostly ignored as they were for a G1 storm, something that is very common during solar cycle highs and generally harmless. Shortly after 1PM, the warning of an inbound sudden impulse hit the inbox, which slightly caught my attention.
Minutes later, more warnings came in, including one for a G3 storm. Really, I only start paying attention to geomagnetic storms hit G3 levels. Interestingly enough, at 3:48PM local time, I saw the first G4 warning I have seen in over 10 years of watching these things.
While I’m not overly concerned yet, it is possible that a storm of this magnitude could start to cause some disruptions. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be tucking your electronics into faraday cages, geomagnetic storms don’t affect small devices, but they can play tricks on the power grid.
Here is what the NOAA has to say about G4 storms, which they refer to as “Severe”.
Power systems: Possible widespread voltage control problems and some protective systems will mistakenly trip out key assets from the grid.
Spacecraft operations: May experience surface charging and tracking problems, corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
Other systems: Induced pipeline currents affect preventive measures, HF radio propagation sporadic, satellite navigation degraded for hours, low-frequency radio navigation disrupted, and aurora has been seen as low as Alabama and northern California (typically 45° geomagnetic lat.).
Remember, just one more level higher, a G5 storm can create complete power system collapse and blackouts. Power outages are already a possibility at G4.
Now might be a good time to test run the generator and check your fuel levels.