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SPACE WEATHER WOMAN

The Sun Sends A Puzzle


Dear <<First Name>>,

I usually enjoy a good puzzle. Especially the ones that challenge and inspire, forcing me to look at things from an unusual perspective. Today, it seems the Sun has sent us such a puzzle. If you have been watching the forecasts lately, you know we have two solar storm producing regions on the Sun, right now. As expected, one has sent us an Earth-directed solar storm. The solar storm is predicted to hit tomorrow, but here is the puzzle: it has hit today. 

Considering the state of Space Weather forecasting, the inaccuracy of NOAA/SWPC's prediction of this storm's arrival is not necessarily a surprise. However, there are several pieces of this puzzle that just don't fit with the idea that the storm hitting now is the one NOAA expected. First, according to our upstream satellites the storm is moving too slowly to have hit yet. This means either the storm was travelling much faster a few days ago than it is now, or perhaps this is not the storm we predicted to hit at all. Secondly, this isn't the only solar storm the Sun launched recently. There are other contenders. So what if one of the storms we originally thought would miss Earth, is actually hitting now? Honestly, I'm not sure. It may turn out that another storm will hit Earth as predicted on May 11. If so, the mild aurora beginning to build now will continue, possibly lasting for another two days before finally calming down. The only way to know for sure is to wait and see.

So as you watch this week's forecast, take a look at the large number of solar storms in the ENLIL modeling segment. Although the predictions show all but one going east of Earth, perhaps that isn't entirely the case. These solar storms often tangle together as they travel through space, like pieces of a giant picture puzzle sent to us from our star. So what if that is it? Looking at things from this unusual perspective could explain why the NOAA predictions are wrong and why we are getting hit early. The Sun may indeed be sending us a puzzle, but ultimately, its still up to us to put the big picture together. 

Cheers,
Tamitha
 
Direct Hit After a Long Wait: Solar Storm Forecast 05-09-2019
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