The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center predicts more solar storms Monday, disrupting the power grid and satellite communications. The predictions come during the peak of the current solar cycle, an eleven-year period of sun spot activity, solar storms, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The effects on Earth are expected to be relatively mild.
The sun has wreaked minor havoc on the planet’s magnetic field over the past few days. An M9.4-class solar flare occurred Wednesday in association with a coronal mass ejection, which can send solar material flying through space at 1 million kph and cause brief radio blackouts. A somewhat kinder, gentler M-class solar flare occurred Thursday.
On Friday, the sun delivered two powerful X-class solar flares, reported NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. X-class flares are the most powerful class of solar flare, with M-class being of middling intensity and C-class being the weakest. Friday’s flares produced only nominal geomagnetic storms on the planet, and Monday’s predicted G1-class magnetic storms will likewise be somewhat quiet.
The solar storms will cause weak power fluctuations, minor effects on satellite communications and operations, and intensified Northern and Southern Lights. This ongoing barrage of flares is considered to be ordinary during this peak period Solar Cycle 24. “Humans have tracked solar cycles continuously since they were discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun’s peak activity,” NASA said.