Leading space science expert predicts a 'direct hit' on Earth from a solar storm

It can cause significant blackouts to GPS navigation systems.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Solar storm stock image.Source: Pitris/iStock

It has been a busy time for solar activity. Back in March of 2022, Earth was hit by separate geomagnetic storms, according to government weather agencies in the U.S. and the U.K. 

Though the geomagnetic storms likely didn't cause any harm, they brought into focus the potential harm that could come from more powerful storms in the future.

Then earlier this month, a G1-class geomagnetic storm hit the Earth, causing bright auroras over Canada. The only problem is that nobody saw this storm coming until it was quite late. 

Five days ago, a giant sunspot and filaments on the solar surface had astronomers worried about possible Earth-directed solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that could lead to blackouts.

Finally, on Friday, it was reported that a massive solar flare had erupted from the Sun, which could see radio blackouts in many parts of the world.

A "direct hit" from a solar storm

Now, on Saturday, Dr. Tamitha Skov, known as the "Space Weather Woman," predicted a "direct hit" from a solar storm to take place on Tuesday. She took to social media to share the news along with a NASA prediction model video.

Skov is a research scientist at the federally funded Aerospace Corporation and an award-winning science educator on social media.

"Direct Hit!" she wrote on Twitter. "A snake-like filament launched as a big solar storm while in the Earth-strike zone."

"NASA predicts impact early July 19. Strong Aurora shows possible with this one, deep into mid-latitudes," she explained, adding that there could be disruption to GPS and amateur radio.

G2 level conditions

Her worrisome tweet was followed by another post accompanied by a video of the Sun.

"The long snake-like filament cartwheeled its way off the Sun in a stunning ballet," the science educator wrote explaining the video.

"The magnetic orientation of this Earth-directed solar storm is going to be tough to predict. G2-level (possibly G3) conditions may occur if the magnetic field of this storm is oriented southward!" she further noted.

With the Sun now in an active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, incidents such as these are expected to increase. The question now becomes: how harmful are they really? Typically, they can cause significant blackouts to GPS navigation systems, which could end up disrupting journeys for small aircraft and ships. Other than that, however, there is not much to worry about.

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