The Magnetic Storm of Halloween 2003

Posted: October 31, 2018 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Geomagnetism, History, solar system dynamics


The storm was so strong that the change in magnetic direction could be easily measured on a compass, as this 2013 article explains.

Ghosts and goblins, candle-lit jack o’lanterns and dark haunted houses, ominous screeching and maniacal laughter – these are some of the frightening fantasies we associate with Halloween.

But ten years ago during the Halloween of 2003, while children in costumes paraded door-to-door for treats, the Sun was playing its own tricks with planet Earth, says Directions Magazine.

The consequence: a solar-terrestrial nightmare became a scary reality.

The Halloween Storm

In mid-October 2003, a bundle of concentrated magnetic energy emerged from the Sun’s interior, forming a large sunspot, a site of seething activity. Enormous solar flares soon followed. Then, on October 28, the sunspot abruptly ejected a concentrated mass of electrically conducting solar wind, flinging it out into interplanetary space toward the Earth. Less than a day later, on October 29, a geomagnetic storm was initiated as the solar wind disrupted the Earth’s protective magnetosphere.

Over the next three days, the “Halloween magnetic storm” would evolve and grow to become one of the largest such storms in half a century.

Magnetic storms are global phenomena, and their effects can be easily seen around the world. During the Halloween storm, for example, magnetic direction in Alaska quickly changed by more than 20 degrees. In other words, the storm was so large that it could be measured with a simple compass.

The Halloween magnetic storm also produced spectacular aurora, with green phantom “northern lights” seen as far south as Texas and Florida.

The Impacts of this Storm

The USGS network of magnetic observatories monitored activity from the Halloween storm in collaboration with international partners. The storm played tricks on technological systems around the world, which scientists continue to analyze even today.

Continued here.

See also: The Halloween Storms: When Solar Events Spooked the Skies | GPS World

  1. oldbrew says:

    Back in the present…

  2. Brett Keane says:

    Violent weather here in NZ, SH, coming from the Sth Pole via the Australian Bight. Could last over a week and has brought Winter back. Typical of solar violence, but not sure if the timing is right for this one. Brett

  3. oldbrew says:

    High water, snow, tornadoes batter European landmarks
    UPDATED: October 30, 2018

    Venice was inundated by an exceptional high tide Monday, putting three-quarters of the famed Italian lagoon city under water as large swathes of the rest of Italy experienced flooding and heavy winds.
    . . .
    Spain and France also experienced unusual weather: an early blast of winter.

    Twenty-eight departments in central France are under orange alert — the second-highest weather warning — for snow and ice. The island of Corsica is under red alert for winds gusting up to 100 mph. Residents there have been advised to stay indoors and not to drive.

    About 38,000 people on the island of Menorca were without power after a tornado. Two hikers missing in a snowstorm in the Spanish Pyrenees were rescued Sunday, but a young Spanish fisherman is still missing. [bold added]
    – – –
    Only halfway through autumn 😐

  4. oldbrew says:

    Let’s see, 2003 – looks like that tall one…

  5. oldbrew says:

    Paper: X‐ray magnitude of the 4 November 2003 solar flare
    The largest solar X‐ray flare ever recorded occurred on 4 November 2003 (2003/11/04).

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