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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

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Geomagnetic storm to persist through at least Sunday

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Saturday the ongoing geomagnetic storm will persist through at least Sunday. The storm started Friday. 

A geomagnetic storm is a disturbance of the earth’s magnetosphere that occurs due to a “very efficient” exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth, according to NOAA. The ongoing storm was rated a G5, or extreme, on the G-Scale. It is the highest level on the scale. NOAA uses the G-Scale to describe space weather that could disrupt power systems on Earth. The last G5 storm was recorded in 2003.  

This week’s storm was caused by seven coronal mass ejections. Large coronal mass ejections begin when magnetic fields in the sun’s lower atmosphere become stressed and realign into a relaxed position. This realignment can cause a sudden release of energy — coronal mass ejections.   

A G5 geomagnetic storm could cause widespread voltage control and protective system problems, grid collapse or blackouts, transformer damage, radio disruption for one to two days and degraded satellite navigation for days, among other disruptions. 

NOAA said there have already been reports of “power grid irregularities and degradation to high-frequency communications and GPS.” 

The geomagnetic storm can also cause the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, to be visible farther south than usual. On Friday night and Saturday morning, the aurora was visible as far south as Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. The northern lights were visible in parts of Monroe County and Bloomington, as well. 

NOAA predicts the probability of an aurora appearance in central and southern Indiana to be between 10%-50% on Saturday. 

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