As of 3 AM EDT NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center showed the estimated planetary K index had dropped to 3 from a high of 6 early Wednesday morning. The Earth was impacted by first of two coronal mass ejections that were the result of a complex eruption on the sun that some news sources called a "solar tsunami." Web site Spaceweather.com has beautiful pictures of bright auroras.
More auroras may appear tonight or tomorrow when the second coronal mass ejection (CME) hits the Earth's magnetosphere.
A previous solar storm has been identified as a possible cause of the malfunctioning of Galaxy 15 in April. So far, I have not seen any reports of damage to satellites from the first CME. Satellite operators have procedures to protect satellites from events such as these.
With luck, the only damage from this "solar tsunami" will be the sleep people miss from staying up late at night to catch a glimpse of the light show or, if they are ham radio operators, from staying up late to take advantage of the unique auroral VHF and UHF propagation modes for contacting distant stations. Use NOAA's Space Weather Now website to see current conditions and the extent of the auroral coverage.
Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.
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