Solar Flare impacts continue through Saturday
by Pinedale Online!
February 19, 2011
Last Monday, February 14th (Valentine’s Day), the largest solar flare since December 2006 occurred. This event disrupted high frequency (HF) communications and prompted a rerouting of air traffic near the poles. According to the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), three waves of energy have now merged into a single G1, or minor, geomagnetic storm. The flare sent what is called a coronal mass ejection (CME) towards the Earth. A CME is billions of tons of charged particles, mostly protons. When the charged particles come close to the Earth, they align along the magnetic field lines, creating more brilliant auroral displays and interference with radio signals. In a worst case, they can damage electrical systems.
A fast-growing sunspot complex erupted on Friday, February 18th, produced another solar flare. This was one of the strongest flares in years and continued a week-long trend of high solar activity. Another day or so of geomagnetic activity is expected.