Coronal Mass Ejection

Geomagnetic storms, baby yeah! I felt a bit like Mary Poppins as I left school last night. The weather was so freaky! For those of you who don’t live in California, let me just give you a quick debriefing: It’s always beautiful, sunny and warm here. It’s rarely–if ever–windy, and almost never rains. So, taking this into consideration, you can imagine my surprise as the palm trees were bent in half by the wind and the night sky seemed to be howling! It was also about 10 degrees colder than it usually is at 6pm.

The wind and howling continued all night, and our power flickered and died completely at several points! Apparently, this was all due to a geomagnetic storm. There’s a magnetic storm on the sun right now that creates these flare-ups of gas that shoot off the sun into space. Besides the flare-ups, there are also CMEs, or coronal mass ejections. These are much more intense, and are basically giant eruptions from the sun that blast a billion tons of highly charged particles into space at speeds greater than a million miles per hour. The particles that are flying around in space thanks to this eruption cause auroras (read: the Northern and Southern Lights). Luckily these types of emissions only affect earth by disrupting satellite communications and power grids–which is what happened to us last night!