A Powerful Geomagnetic Storm Is Churning Above Us, What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

(Photo by ALI LORESTANI / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by ALI LORESTANI/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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It might not be the most powerful geomagnetic storm, but there’s something crazy happening in the skies above us Tuesday.

A G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm started Monday, resulting from a huge coronal mass ejection from our sun, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. While the update from NOAA contained an “ALERT,” there really isn’t much of a threat to us here on Earth.

“The general public need not be concerned. Those under or near the 30-minute prediction auroral extent may look for the aurora if at night and should weather conditions permit,” NOAA noted. There could be a stronger disturbance in our magnetic field, with some risk for voltage fluctuations and possible surface charging and atmospheric drag on spacecraft operations.

A popular misconception is that geomagnetic storms influence our weather here on Earth. They don’t. These solar flares actually hurl huge amounts of energy at Earth, which have “no measurable influence on surface temperatures,” Climate.gov outlined on its official website.

There are some loose hypotheses that longer solar storms could influence climate, but there’s only really one way I can see this happening.

Powerful geomagnetic storms rated from a G4-G5 on the G-scale can pose significant impacts to humanity, including threats to global power systems. The strongest solar storm in recent recorded history (in 1859) was large enough to force telegraph equipment and communication structures across the world to go haywire. Other bits of Victorian tech were even able to draw power from the air, running without any external energy source.

The same could happen today, at least temporarily. It’s far more likely that our delicate circuitry would burn out.

This is probably the worst that could happen during a powerful geomagnetic storm. We’d just casually be thrown back to the Dark Ages (irony) because most people have lost the necessary skill sets to survive without electricity and electrical technology. (RELATED: Netflix Documentary Could Rewrite All Of Human History)

Until relatively recently, geomagnetic storms could only be forecast roughly 30 minutes before they erupted toward us. Recent studies now suggest we can see them coming with days to prepare, though it’s unclear what we can actually do to protect our current level of technology from this massive external threat.