May 19th, 2024

Major geomagnetic storm associated with solar flares hitting all of Canada

By The Canadian Press on May 10, 2024.

Space Weather Canada is warning the public that a "major geomagnetic storm" alert is in effect Friday, which might cause "ionospheric disturbances." This image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, as seen in the bright flash in the lower right, captured by NASA on May 9, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, NASA, Solar Dynamics Observatory, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

OTTAWA – Canada’s space weather agency is warning of a “major geomagnetic storm” that is hitting the country and could have severe impacts on power systems and other infrastructure.

Space Weather Canada says the storm that is associated with massive solar flares was striking all of Canada Friday afternoon.

The U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued its first geomagnetic storm watch since 2005 and says the storm is a “potentially historic event.”

A spokesman for electricity provider BC Hydro says it has been preparing for the storm, and such events can potentially cause serious damage to high-voltage transmission systems, leading to outages.

Kevin Aquino says while those effects aren’t expected, BC Hydro staff are monitoring for any impacts.

Space Weather Canada says the storm warning will be downgraded late Friday to a storm watch that will last until Saturday afternoon.

It says major storm activity is associated with very high risk of affects on geostationary satellites, and potential severe disruption to activities involving geomagnetism, including aerial surveys and directional drilling.

The storm could also extend the northern lights across all of Canada and as far south as California.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024.

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