Recent reports may have over exaggerated reports that Earth will be hit by a massive magnetic storm on March 18. Space weather forecasts show that this isn't the case but that wasn't what the news headlines said.

Magnetic storms could be disruptive for electronics on Earth.

National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration

Newsweek contacted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and found that there was no basis for recent reports saying Earth would be hit by a massive geomagnetic storm.

Speaking to the head of NOAA's Space Weather Forecast Center, they were told that this isn't possible. Recent forecasts in space weather have been relatively quiet, with the Sun not exhibiting any signs of sending a magnetic storm towards Earth.

One of the sources of a massive magnetic storm is the misinterpretation of data released by Russia's Lebedev Institute which shows activity that may turn into a minor storm. NOAA released similar information in its forecast of upcoming space weather.

One article suggested that this storm may show cracks in Earth's magnetic field. Massive geomagnetic storms can disrupt communications throughout the world. Another article reported that the storm would be able to cause headaches and dizziness.

Geomagnetic Storms

Geomagnetic storms are caused when events such as solar flares can send higher than normal levels of radiation towards Earth. This radiation interacts with the Earth's magnetic field causing a geomagnetic storm.

Effects from the geomagnetic storm can range from the appearance of auroras or the northern and southern lights to disruptions in communications systems due to high radiation. This would make it difficult to communicate with others on Earth.

Geomagnetic storms are classified according to a scale that measures the effect that storms will have. At its safest level, a G1 storm affects power grids by causing weak fluctuations, minor impacts on satellite operations, and causes the northern and southern lights to occur. At its most extreme, G5, there would be voltage control problems with some grid system collapses or blackouts, radio waves wouldn't be able to travel for one to two days, low-frequency radio would be out for hours, and the auroras would be able to be seen at lower latitudes than usual.

NOAA currently has no warnings about space weather conditions. In 1859, a geomagnetic storm was so large that it messed with telegraph wires in the U.S. and Europe causing induced voltage increases, and also shocked telegraph operators and started fires.

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