Space weather can be beautiful when it causes the well-known aurora lights, but it can also be deadly if it affects services like communications, the power grid and other critical infrastructures during an emergency.
Space weather affecting the Earth is monitored and reported daily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). NOAA SWPC rates space weather on an intensity scale from 1 to 5. A 1 event can cause minor damage such as minor degradation of radio signals. An event with a rating of 5 causes extreme to catastrophic damage. An example of an extreme event is a radio blackout lasting hours or longer.
The three types of monitored space weather are:
These types of space weather will be explored further in future InfoGrams to provide more clarity on how they can affect emergency operations and the jobs of first responders.
NOAA provides emergency management specific predictions, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides space weather preparedness information at Ready.gov.
- Solar Flares (Radio Blackout) effects on communications PDF ~ 160 KB
- How solar radiation storms affect emergency response PDF ~ 160 KB
- Geomagnetic storms PDF ~ 160 KB