Thursday, March 8, 2012

Big sunspot AR1429 has unleashed another major flare. This one is the strongest yet, an X5-class eruption on March 7th at 00:28 UT. It was the biggest eruption in 5 years. The flare also accelerated energetic protons toward Earth, triggering an S3-class solar radiation storm, in progress. Such a storm is mainly a nuisance to satellites, causing occasional reboots of onboard computers and adding noise to imaging systems. The CME from the X5-class solar flare was expected to reach our planet today, March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr). The impact could spark a strong geomagnetic storm. There is an 85 % chance of a severe geomagnetic storm at high latitudes in the next 24 hours.
Mild geomagnetic activity is already underway following a lesser CME impact on March 7th. Shortly after the cloud arrived, a burst of Northern Lights appeared over the US-Canadian border. A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole could reach Earth as early as March 9-10.
Earth's magnetic field is being shaken like a snow globe by the large solar storm. After hurtling through space for a day and a half, a massive cloud of charged particles arrived Tuesday and could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast also could paint colourful auroras farther from the poles than normal. Scientists say the storm, which started with a massive solar flare early in the week, is growing as it races outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble and moving at 6.4 million km/h. "It's hitting us right in the nose."
The storm is part of the sun's normal 11-year cycle, which is supposed to reach peak storminess next year. Solar storms do not harm people, but they do disrupt technology. And during the last peak around 2002, experts learned that GPS was vulnerable to solar outbursts. Because new technology has flourished since then, scientists could discover that some new systems also are at risk.
A decade ago, this type of solar storm happened a couple of times a year. "This is a good-size event, but not the extreme type." The region of the sun that erupted can still send more blasts earth's way. Another set of active sunspots is ready to aim at Earth right after this. "This is a big sun spot group, particularly nasty. Things are really twisted up and mixed up. It keeps flaring."
Storms like this start with sun spots. Then comes an initial solar flare of subatomic particles that resemble a filament coming out of the sun. That part already hit earth only minutes after the initial burst, bringing radio and radiation disturbances. After that comes the coronal mass ejection, which looks like a growing bubble and takes a couple of days to reach earth. It's that ejection that could cause magnetic disruptions today. "It could give us a bit of a jolt." The storm follows an earlier, weaker solar eruption that happened Sunday. Still, the potential for problems is widespread. Solar storms have three ways they can disrupt technology on earth: with magnetic, radio and radiation emissions. This is an UNUSUAL situation, when all three types of solar storm disruptions are likely to be strong. That makes it the strongest overall since December 2006.
That means "a whole host of things" could follow.
Solar storms also can make global positioning systems less accurate and cause GPS outages. The storm could trigger communication problems and additional radiation around the north and south poles - a risk that probably will force airlines to reroute flights. Some already have done so. Satellites could be affected, too. NASA is not taking any extra precautions to protect astronauts on the International Space Station from added radiation. The charged particles are expected to hit Earth at 4,000,000 mph (6,400,000 km/h), and NOAA predicts the storm will last until Friday morning.

**Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are.**

This morning -

Yesterday -


Russia Volcano Bezymianny put on Code Red for imminent eruption - One of the most active volcanoes in the world has been put on aviation color code red, the highest alert given by the Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team. KVERT assigned the code on Tuesday and warns of an imminent eruption. "Activity of the volcano continuously increases," says the alert. "Strong ash explosions up to 42,640 ft (13 km) a.s.l. possible at any time. Ongoing activity could affect international and low-flying aircraft."
Activity of the volcano remains high. Seismic activity began to grow on February 12: about 7-19 weak seismic events were registering each day till February 29; about 25-43 weak seismic events and episodes volcanic tremor were recorded each day on March 01-05. Probably there is a preparation of a strong explosive eruption of the volcano. According to satellite data, a size and a brightness of a thermal anomaly abrupt increased on March 02, and continues to increase.
Bezymianny volcano is one the most active volcanoes of the world. In 1955, for the first time in history, Bezymianny started to erupt and after six months it produced a catastrophic eruption. The lava dome began to grow in the explosive caldera immediately after the catastrophe and continues at now. 42 Vulcanian-type strong explosive eruptions of Bezymianny occurred in 1965-2011, while 20 of them producing ash up to 10-15 km a.s.l. The last explosive eruption occurred on April 13, 2011.

In the Indian Ocean -
-Tropical cyclone 14s (Irina) was located approximately 470 nm east-southeast of Maputo, Mozambique.
-Tropical cyclone 16s (Koji) was located approximately 440 nm west-southwest of Cocos Island, Australia.

Madagascar Cyclones to Harm Rainfall - The devastating cyclones in Madagascar are likely to reduce the amount of rainfall in Kenya between March to May. Even though most parts of the country will experience near normal rainfall, the tendency will be a below normal pattern. During the period, the long rains are also likely to exhibit poor distribution both in time and space over most parts of the country. "Our worries are the fact that over Malagasy we have tropical cyclones. These are systems where the radius off the centre is about 40 kilometres, so the low pressure inside it causes it to suck the air from countries around it. When we have tropical cyclones passing there, them we are denied moisture but we are going to keep track of them."
Tropical Storm Irina has killed at least 65 people in Madagascar, before lashing the coasts of South Africa and Mozambique, where at least one person was killed. In the South African city of Durban, beaches were closed as waves reached a height of three metres (16 feet). Ships were ordered to remain in port. Irina was the second killer storm of the season. Last month, tropical cyclone Giovanna left 35 people dead and many more injured. Madagascar's cyclone season normally runs from November through February and costs dozens of lives every year.
Cool air blowing in the Indian Ocean is expected to contribute to low rainfall during the season. "When the Indian Ocean is very warm and we have South Eastern winds coming into the country, they pass over this warm ocean and collect moisture which they inject into the country and that causes rain. When the oceans are very cold, they do not give out moisture. In our forecast, we are seeing that the Indian Ocean is going to be a bit cool."
An alert was issued to planes flying to the Western part of the country to exercise caution during the long rainy season expected to commence this month all the way to May. "Lightning strikes may occur in Western Kenya especially between Gusii and Kakamega counties owing to strong convectional activities between Lake Victoria, the Mau escarpment and Mt Elgon. There is air circulation there during the rains that gives a lot of convection."


Australia - Sydney has suffered its HEAVIEST RAINFALL IN FIVE YEARS, A '100-YEAR EVENT', bringing the city's transport system to a halt and causing hundreds of rescues and evacuations.
Hundreds of boats on Sydney Harbour are in danger of sinking as the city is hammered by torrential rain.