NOAA REPORTS HEIGHTENED SPACE WEATHER
19, 2005 — For the past five days, forecasters at the NOAA Space
Environment Center (SEC) in Boulder , Colo. , have observed all
types of space weather: radio blackouts, solar radiation storms,
and geomagnetic storms. Currently, space weather forecasters are
observing a moderate (G-2) geomagnetic storm and a minor (S-1)
solar radiation storm, and earlier today an X-class flare produced
a strong (R-3) radio blackout.
(click image for full size picture)
According to NOAA space weather forecaster, Bill Murtagh, "NOAA
sunspot Region 720 emerged rapidly from a small single sunspot
on 12 January to become a very large and complex sunspot cluster
on 14 January. Several major flares have occurred since 15 January.
A strong (S-3) radiation storm and several periods of strong (G-3)
geomagnetic storming occurred due to these solar eruptions," Murtagh
notes, "This activity is occurring almost five years past
the solar maximum (April 2000). This activity is significant; however,
it is considerably less intense than the activity observed during
the "Halloween Storms" of 2003. Fewer sunspots are
observed during this stage of the solar cycle, but sporadic large
clusters are expected in the waning stages of the cycle. In fact,
intense late cycle activity was also observed in the late stages
of Cycle 17 and Cycle 20."
NOAA notifies customers for a wide range of space environment
conditions. Due to the assortment of space weather events over
the past week, all sectors vulnerable to hazardous space weather
may feel the effects of the recent activity. These include airline
and spacecraft operations, electric power systems, navigation,
satellites, and communications systems. NOAA received reports of
impacts on various communications systems.
Forecasters indicate strong (R-3) solar flares are possible for
the next three to four days. Region 720 will rotate to the far
side of the Sun on 22 January, and significant flare activity is
expected to end. The radiation storm in progress now is declining
and barring another major flare, should end in 2-3 days. Moderate
(G-2) to strong (G-3) geomagnetic storm levels are expected over
the next two days.
The NOAA Space Environment Center , one of the National Centers
for Environmental Prediction, is home to the nation's early
warning system for solar activities that directly affect people
and equipment on Earth and in space. SEC's 24 hour-a-day,
7 days-a-week operations are critical in protecting space and ground-based
assets. Through the SEC, NOAA and the U.S. Air Force jointly operate
the space weather operations center that continuously monitors,
analyzes and forecasts the environment between the sun and Earth.
In addition to the data gathered from NOAA and NASA satellites,
the center receives real-time solar and geophysical information
from ground based-observatories around the world. The NOAA space
weather forecasters use the data to predict solar and geomagnetic
activity and issue worldwide alerts of extreme events.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national
safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related
events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's
coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department
Carmeyia Gillis, NOAA Space Environment Center : (301) 763-8000,
Related Web sites:
NOAA Space Environment Center http://sec.noaa.gov/index.html
NOAA Space Weather Scales http://sec.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/index.html