CME hits Earth sparking G2 – Moderate geomagnetic storm


A coronal mass ejection (CME) produced by the long-duration C2 solar flare on March 10/11, 2022, hit Earth early March 13, sparking G2 – Moderate geomagnetic storming. Disturbed conditions are expected to continue into March 14 and 15.

The CME started around 18:00 UTC on March 10 and ended after 05:00 UTC on March 11 – more than 11 hours later.1

It was first observed in LASCO C2 imagery at around 19:30 UTC on March 10.

A geomagnetic sudden impulse was observed following the shock passage at 10:07 UTC on March 13, with the Wingst magnetometer observing a 33 nT deviation at 10:52 UTC.

Solar wind speeds sharply increased from 350 km/s to around 600 km/s, then settled near 485 km/s. Total field increased from 3 – 25 nT, and Bz became volatile and reached a maximum southward deflection of -24 nT. Phi was predominantly negative.2

Geomagnetic K-index of 5 (G1 – Minor geomagnetic storm) threshold was reached at 13:44 UTC, followed by K-index of 6 (G2 – Moderate) at 14:41 UTC.

G2 – Moderate geomagnetic storm potential impacts:

Area of impact primarily poleward of 55 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude. Power grid fluctuations can occur. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms. Satellite orientation irregularities may occur; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites is possible. HF (high frequency) radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes. Aurora may be seen as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state.

“For an hour on March 13th, a big crack opened in Earth’s magnetic field – one of the biggest in years (For specialists: BsubZ less than -20 nT),” Dr. Tony Phillips of SpaceWeather.com noted.3

“Solar wind poured through the gap, adding its energy to that of the CME which struck earlier in the day. This increases the chances that high-latitude auroras may remain visible at least through the early hours of March 14th.”

What Dr. Phillips described took place from 21:33 to 22:36 UTC:

This CME hit Earth on the 33rd anniversary of the infamously named “Quebec Blackout” geomagnetic storm in March 1989, which resulted in power outages in Canada as well as auroral activity in lower than usual latitudes.4


1 G2 – Moderate geomagnetic storm predicted following long-duration C2 solar flare – The Watchers

2 Forecast Discussion – Issued: 2022 Mar 14 0030 UTC – Prepared by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center

3 SpaceWeather – March 13, 2022

4 Space Weather Alert – 11th March 2022 – BGS

Featured image credit: Aurora by Ken Cheung (stock photo)

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