Solar storm incoming: Federal agencies provide inconsistent, confusing information

Friday, July 13, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Jason Samenow
WashingtonPost.com
07/13/2012

A wave of plasma stoked by an X-class solar flare, the most intense type, is headed towards Earth. This blast of charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), is forecast to ignite a geomagnetic storm on Earth over the weekend. NOAA predicts it will be minor, maybe moderate. NASA says it will be moderate to severe.

I ask: which intensity will it be and why aren’t these two science agencies on the same page?

The intensity of the inbound CME matters.

If NOAA’s right, and the ensuing geomagnetic storm is minor, it’s no big deal. It means the high latitudes could be treated to some brilliant auroras over the weekend with few, if any, negative effects on earth-orbiting satellites or the power grid.

On the other hand, if NASA’s right, and the geomagnetic storm is strong to severe, Earth-orbiting satellites could get disoriented and the electrical grid, according to NOAA, could experience “widespread voltage control problems” among other issues. Aurora could be seen as far south as Alabama and northern California.

The Rest…HERE

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