Solar storms continue above, few effects felt below

Sky watchers do have an increased chance of seeing the lights over the days and months ahead

Signs of spring are signalling the end of winter weather, but storms of a much greater magnitude are still in the forecast as the second solar storm of the year hit the Earth this week.

The extraterrestrial weather – caused by solar flares followed one- to two-days later by highly-charged proton-rich particle clouds – are strong enough to theoretically affect satellites and electronics once they collide with the planet’s magnetic field. However, there is little to no chance their effects will be felt.

“There’s nothing to be scared of, nothing to be afraid of,” said Dmitry Monin, astronomer for the National Research Council of Canada on West Saanich Road. “It’s something we’ve been through many, many times. It’s something we know is going to happen and it will repeat itself in another 11 years.”

Monin is referring to the sun’s 11-year activity cycle, characterized by increased fluctuations of solar flares. Even during times of high activity, such as the current period, effects of the solar storms are very rare. The type of Global Positioning System operations that the storms may affect, Monin said, are most likely those needed for extremely accurate processes. For example, those involved with precise drilling – not the average smartphone user’s mapping needs. Similarly, the risk of health complications are limited to those with preexisting heart conditions that may potentially be affected by a disturbance to the planet’s magnetic field.

Airplanes are generally rerouted around the North Pole during a solar storm as a precaution.

“The sun has been been in a low active rate for years,” Monin said. “It’s not surprising that we see more and more solar flares happening.”

A solar storm in 1989 caused a massive power grid failure in Quebec – something that wasn’t expected during the last two storms. A more common side effect are visible aurora borealis outside of the usual northern regions and as far south as Mexico. Sky watchers do have an increased chance of seeing the lights over the days and months ahead, though clear skies and the brightness of the moon play a large role in catching the phenomenon live.

The last solar storm to hit the Earth began on Jan. 19.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

VIDEO: ‘Stewie the Starfish’ mascot revealed at Premier League kickoff party

Pacific FC kickoff party scores in Victoria Inner Harbour

Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Bowl for Kids’ Sake returns to Langford

Annual fundraising event held from April 26 to 28

Report calls on Saanich to expand multicultural programming at recreation facilities

Report also notes that Saanich could do more for sexual minorities.

Victoria cannabis dispensaries are busy in their first days of legal operation

The Cloud Nine Collective and The Original FARM opened their doors on April 15

WATCH: Movie star and PACE alum Calum Worthy talks musical theatre and his career

“American Vandal” and “Austin and Ally” actor has been returning to the program for over 20 years

POLL: How often does your family use BC Ferries?

Navigating the lineups for BC Ferries is a way of life for… Continue reading

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of April 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Most Read