A severe geomagnetic storm hitting Earth can knock out power, electronics around the world

A severe geomagnetic storm hitting Earth can knock out power, electronics around the world

A rare and powerful geomagnetic storm hitting Earth this weekend could trigger power outages around the world, according to scientists.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) upgraded its original G4 geomagnetic storm watch to a G5 — the strongest storm of its kind on a scale from G1 to G5. The extraordinary atmospheric event began late Friday and is expected to last through the weekend.

NOAA officials say the agency hasn’t issued a warning of this magnitude in more than two decades, with the last G5 storm hitting Earth in October 2003.

Scientists say the powerful geomagnetic storm could knock out power and electronics around the world. They noted that the storm that hit Earth in 2003 caused power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

“Geomagnetic storms can affect infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on Earth’s surface, potentially disrupting communications, electrical power grids, navigation, radio and satellite operations,” NOAA said in a statement.

However, the anomalous event could give residents of the US a rare opportunity to see the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.

Those as far south as Alabama and Northern California may have a chance to see a spectacular light show.

Scientists explain that the northern lights are caused by disturbances in the magnetosphere that shoot solar flares and clouds of magnetic particles produced by the sun into space. A huge, powerful electromagnetic storm lights up the sky with a spectacular explosion of color.

In preparation for the G5 electromagnetic storm, NOAA has alerted power plant operators and spacecraft agencies around the world to take precautions.

They said the event could cause widespread voltage control problems, disrupt spacecraft operations and degrade satellite and radio navigation systems around the world.

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