A minor earthward-directed Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) already hit Earth’s magnetic field on Wednesday. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) expects a more powerful earthbound CME to strike Thursday-Friday.
SWPC has already issued geomagnetic storm watches for a minor geomagnetic storm today, a strong geomagnetic storm on Thursday, and a moderate one on Friday.
The impacts will be insignificant now, but that could change tomorrow as a strong geomagnetic storm can spark power grid fluctuations, create satellite irregularities, and degrade radio and GPS signals. SWPC’s storm severity scale is 1-5.
A visual of the CME impacts on modern society.
Here’s more from spaceweather:
On Aug. 14th, a dark plasma eruption hurled one CME toward Earth. On Aug. 15th, an exploding magnetic filament launched another CME right behind it. The two CMEs will arrive together on Aug.18th, according to the latest forecast model from NOAA:
This could be a “Cannibal CME” event. In other words, the second CME might overtake and gobble up the first, creating a mish-mash of the two. Cannibal CMEs contain tangled magnetic fields and compressed plasmas that sometimes spark strong geomagnetic storms.
Geomagnetic Storms will be visible to the naked eye in the US as far as Illinois and Oregon (geomagnetic latitude 50 degrees).
The sun is in a very active 11-year solar cycle called Solar Cycle 25, which began in December 2019.
The solar cycle peak is expected in 2025, but even before that, its presence will be felt on and around Earth via CMEs disrupting modern life.