The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) uses its space scales to categorize solar storms.
They were introduced as a way to inform the general public about current and future weather conditions in space and their possible effects on people and systems.
The scales describe the environmental disturbances for three types of events: geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms and radio blackouts.
The scales have numbered levels, analogous to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes that convey gravity.
G5 – Extreme
Power systems: widespread problems with voltage regulation and protection system can occur. Some grid systems can completely collapse or experience blackouts. Transformers can be damaged.
Spacecraft operations: may experience extensive charging, orientation issues, uplink / downlink, and tracking satellites.
Other systems: pipeline currents can reach hundreds of amperes, high-frequency radio propagation can be impossible for many days in many areas, satellite navigation can deteriorate for days, low-frequency radio navigation can be hours off and Aurora is seen as low as Florida and southern Texas (typically 40 ° geomagnetic latitude).
G4 – Serious
Power systems: potential widespread voltage control issues and some security systems will erroneously remove important assets from the grid.
Spacecraft operations: may experience surface loading and tracking problems, corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
Other systems: induced pipeline flows affect preventive measures, HF radio propagation sporadically, satellite navigation deteriorated for hours, low-frequency radio navigation disrupted, and aurora is seen as low as Alabama and Northern California (typically 45 ° geomagnetic latitude).
G3 – Strong
Power Systems: Voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some security devices.
Spacecraft operations: surface charge can occur on satellite components, air resistance can increase on satellites with a low orbit around the earth, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
Other systems: intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems can occur, HF radio can be intermittent, and Aurora is seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (usually 50 ° geomagnetic latitude).
G2 – Average
Power systems: Power supply systems at large latitude can experience voltage alarms, prolonged storms can cause damage to the transformer.
Spacecraft operations: Corrective actions for orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in sleep influence job predictions.
Other systems: HF radiopagation can fade at higher latitudes, and Aurora is seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55 ° geomagnetic latitude).
G1 – Minor
Power systems: weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Spacecraft operations: slight impact on satellite operations possible.
Other systems: Draft animals are affected at this and higher levels; Aurora is often visible at great latitudes (Northern Michigan and Maine).
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