Space Weather

Couldn’t ask for a better weekend, a sure sign we have broken through the winter doldrums and can now venture outside to enjoy the great outdoors without having to bundle up.  All my lawns are mowed and fertilized and my wife is whipping our flower beds into shape.  Who can stay inside when it is sunny and warm?

I broke a toe yesterday, which if any of you can attest to can be painful.  Having had broken fingers and toes in the past all one can do is tape it up and continue on the best one can.

Time to hit the books again, this time we discover weather events which don’t include tornadoes, storms or hurricanes, but those things which happen far above the atmosphere which can have a world impact should a strong geomagnetic storm take out communications and power.

Space Weather describes the variations in the space environment between the sun and Earth. In particular Space Weather describes the phenomena that impact systems and technologies in orbit and on Earth. Space weather can occur anywhere from the surface of the sun to the surface of Earth. As a space weather storm leaves the sun, it passes through the corona and into the solar wind. When it reaches Earth, it energizes Earth’s magnetosphere and accelerates electrons and protons down to Earth’s magnetic field lines where they collide with the atmosphere and ionosphere, particularly at high latitudes. Each component of space weather impacts a different technology. A description of some of the space weather impacts can be found at Space Weather Impacts.

In order to protect people and systems that might be at risk from space weather effects, we need to understand the causes. The sun is the main source of space weather. Eruptions of plasma and magnetic field structures from the sun’s atmosphere, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and sudden bursts of radiation, called solar flares, can cause space weather effects at or near Earth. Luckily, Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere do a great job of protecting us from the most hazardous effects.

If a CME arrives at Earth, it can produce a geomagnetic storm, which, in turn, can cause anomalies and disruptions to the modern conveniences we have come to rely on. For example, fluctuating magnetic fields associated with these storms induce currents in long wires like power lines, potentially leading to wide-spread blackouts in extreme cases. On March 13, 1989, a powerful geomagnetic storm triggered a major power blackout in Canada that left 6 million people without electricity for 9 hours. According to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the flare disrupted electric power transmission from the Hydro Quebec generating station and even damaged some power transformers in New Jersey. Power outages due to space weather are rare events, but evidence suggests that significant effects could occur. Significant power outages may have cascading effects, causing loss of:

  • Water and wastewater distribution systems
  • Perishable foods and medications
  • Heating/air conditioning and electrical lighting systems
  • Computer systems, telephone systems, and communications systems (including disruptions in airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services)
  • Public transportation systems
  • Fuel distribution systems and fuel pipelines
  • All electrical systems that do not have back-up power

Space weather caused problems even before the widespread generation and distribution of electrical power. The strongest geomagnetic storm on record occurred in September 1859, known as the Carrington Event, after the British astronomer Richard Carrington. During this storm, excess currents were produced on telegraph lines, shocking technicians and in some cases, setting their telegraph equipment on fire. Aurorae, another feature of geomagnetic activity, were visible as far south as Cuba and Hawaii. Today, a storm like that would cause significant impacts on our technology.

We don’t rely on telegraph networks to communicate anymore; however, our communications technologies are still vulnerable to space weather impacts. Solar flares sometimes produce energetic particles (protons and electrons) that stream to Earth and are captured by Earth’s magnetic field. These particles can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning, intelligence gathering, and weather forecasting, and cause high-frequency radio blackouts in the polar regions. Solar flares also cause radio blackouts on the sun-facing side of the Earth.


Below is the booklet from the Space Weather Prediction Center on Space Weather…

swx_booklet

Below are new features of the Weather Center blog – the pollen forecast is beneficial to those of us who suffer from allergies as soon as the frost retreats.


GRAND RAPIDS WEATHER


KALAMAZOO WEATHER


LANSING WEATHER


Pollen Forecast



 

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INDY
INDY

Is there 2 Rocky’s on here …Rocky has different pictures …INDY!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

One rocky with incredible weather facts and accuracy!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Well the latest cpc shows cool, wet weather is on the way! As usual we have a cool wet Spring! Get prepared for horrendous weather!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Today’s weather = Awesome baby!!!!!!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

One of my favorite topics MV! A lot has been discovered in the past decade or so, but there is still a lot of unknown. As Slim mentioned earlier, we are set up for a major disaster should a large solar flare/eruption fire at us. Just imagine how lost people would be without being able to post on their face place. The horror!

Slim

It looks like after today it is back to normal late April weather with highs in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s
Slim

Mookie
Mookie

Tomorrow will likely be well above average as well with tonight’s balmy overnight low.

Slim

The official temperature at GRR is now at 74. Here at my house I now have 76. This will be the warmest April 22 since 2007 when the high reached 82. I have been outside and it sure feels nice out there.
Slim

Mookie
Mookie

GR is at 71 degrees at noon – feels like summer!

Slim

One has to wonder if we have set our self’s up for a major disaster with all of our electronic devices. Just think if we were to have a major power interruption. Most of us would be lost without our devices that seem to run our day to day lives. Just as a reminder of the past many years ago when I worked security at a Consumers power plant it was common knowledge that if we were attacked by a major enemy one of the first non-military targets would be the power plants.
Slim

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

The impending disaster is global warning and the ignorance of some politicians and mets. that don’t believe it is happening even though all facts say otherwise. Incredible!

Slim

The low so far for today was a mild 51°. Wondering just how that stacked up over the years well not even close. Way back in 1902 the low at Grand Rapids was a warm 64 and the high was 81° There was also a warm low on this date in 1985 with the low was 60. For April 22nd the record high is 86 in 1980 and a 84 was recorded in 1985 along with a 83 in 1960. The Coldest maximum was a cold 38 in 1930 the record low is 24 set in 1986. As for snow… Read more »

*SS*
*SS*

Happy Earth Day!!! Although every day should be treated as such. It was a beautiful weekend like MV said. We were outside most of the day soaking in the sun!!!
Thanks for the space weather info MV!!!

Mookie
Mookie

Still above average temps for April, and today will be our third day in the 70’s for the month.