As per the stats published by Lebedev Institute of Russian Academy of Science representing a graph of solar activity, a slight uptick will be registered on March 18. Many news portals started publishing articles on the upcoming massive geomagnetic storm out of misunderstanding, however, the news went viral and it was trending on Google News on Monday’s morning. But no, there is no massive solar storm on March 18 that could affect power grids and electrical systems and interfere with Earth’s magnetosphere. Instead, the storm that will take place on March 18 is just a feeble solar storm which is classified as a G1 category and will not harm any electrical types of equipment at all.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an organization that predicts weather on Earth and space. NOAA reported that it may have known if such as massive geomagnetic solar storm would hit the Earth on March 18 but there is nothing to even worry about. The weather in the space is quite cool and there is no imminent threat of any type of geomagnetic storm. As per NOAA, news portals across the globe misinterpreted the graph published by the Russian Academy of Science and misunderstood a feeble G1 category of the storm into a massive storm.
Geomagnetic storms are caused by high levels of radiation which are shot by intense solar events like Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) or other solar events. Upon reaching the Earth’s magnetosphere, the storm interferes with the magnetosphere and causes exchange of energy between solar wind and space environment. These solar storms are accounted based on a scale of G1 to G5 where G1 is a weak/minor solar activity. The category rises from G1 to G5 with the increase in the intensity of the geomagnetic storms. As per the stats, Earth faces over 2,000 G1 categories’ geomagnetic storms in every 11 years i.e. about twice a day.
A massive geomagnetic storm as it was misinterpreted would interfere and damage communication satellites as well as cause blackouts due to the damaged power grid and more. In 1859, a massive geomagnetic storm named as ‘Carrington Event’ happened on September 1 to 2, 1859 when it caused Northern Lights to be visible across Cuba, Hawaii, and even part of northern United States while the Southern Auroral Lights were seen as far as in Chile. A similar geomagnetic storm happened in 1989 which caused a 9-hour blackout in Canada. When compared to 1859, yet another similarly intense storm was seen in 2012 which disrupted power grids, however, it was not too dangerous since it flyby near Earth with a margin of nine days.
For those who are unconvinced or fear the upcoming geomagnetic storm on March 18, they can stay prepared for any emergency similar to how they would prepare for any natural calamity. People are advised to take bottles of water, gas filled in car’s tanks, important documents at hand, food supplies, etc in such cases. Note that there are certain beliefs associated with solar storms that aren’t proved yet as per which, these storms can cause headaches, sleeplessness, and dizziness too. The upcoming storm will put quite a show for stargazers around the world who can assemble at a perfect spot to watch the auroral lights and other natural phenomena that follows.