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Geomagnetic Storm Watch issued: Cell phone, GPS disruptions expected

Sun launches explosion of electromagnetic energy towards Earth
Posted at 5:59 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 18:00:03-05

(WTXL) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a geomagnetic storm watch through Friday.

What that means for the Big Bend area and south Georgia:

  • Cell phone and radio communication are particularly susceptible to disruption during magnetic storms.
  • Power outages and communication disruptions are the most likely side effect of a G3 (strong) solar storm if that verifies.

If your favorite radio station crackles with static or your GPS is off by a few yards, it's not just another byproduct of 2020.

According to NOAA, a coronal mass ejection occurred on Dec. 7 and was associated with a C7 flare from Region 2790 of the sun. Coronal mass ejections are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona, the outermost part of the sun's atmosphere.

CMEs can eject billions of tons of coronal material, and energy from the materials can affect Earth's environment.

The fastest Earth-directed CMEs can reach our planet in as little as 15-18 hours. Slower CMEs can take several days to arrive, according to NOAA.

"As CME effects continue, activity is likely to increase, especially if the magnetic field carried with the CME connects well with Earth's magnetosphere," NOAA said in the storm watch alert.

CME-related disturbances are forecast to continue into Friday.

For the latest conditions and forecasts from NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, click here.