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Subject: USGS Reports Geomagnetic Strom In Progress (FORWARDED)
Date: THU, 27 Aug 1998 20:3:20 -0400
From: Andrew Yee 

News Release				Address
US Department of the Interior		Office of Outreach Central Region
US Geological Survey			PO Box 25046, MS150
Release		Contact			Phone		Fax
August 26, 1998	Donald C. Herzog	303-273-8487	
		Heidi Koehler		303-236-5900 x302

USGS Reports Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

At about 3:00 am EST on Wednesday August 26, plasma from a solar eruption
impacted the Earth's magnetic field causing a sudden strom commencement
(ssc) and the possible geginning of a significant geomagnetic storm.

Since August 19, a series of solar X-ray events have been reported by NOAA's
Space Environment Center, and these events have the potential of causing
auroral activity that could be seen in the continental United States.
Auras seen at mid-latitudes are not as dramatic as they are in the 
northern latitudes, but those who have seen them describe them as looking 
like city lights in the sky but in green, blue, adn perhaps even red.
Because of all the complex factors involved, it is difficult to predict
whether the magnetic storm will become severe or not, but it is possible
that na aurora could be seen over the next few nights. A severe magnetic
storm in March 1989 casued aurora that were reported as far south as Mexico.
Look to the north, pereferably in a dark area with a clear view of the 

The Sun emits not only light but a continuous stream of charged particles or
plasma known as the "solar wind" traveling at more than million miles per
hour. The Earth's magnetic field shields us from this deadly particle 
radiation; but if conditions are right eruptions on the Sun can strike the 
Earth, resulting in large erratic fluctuations in the magnetic field that
can cause power outages, satellite failures, disruption in communications,
and the aurora borealis. The 1989 storm caused the collapse of the 
Hydro-Quebec power system in Canada, leaving approximately 6 million people
without power. If that storm had not occurred in the middle of the night on
the East Coast, it likely would have brought down power grids in the United
States as well.

The number of geomagnetic storms on the Earth incrase and decrease in 
concert with the 11-year sunspot cycle of solar activity. The next solar
sunspot maximum is scheduled to accur in the year 2000, and as our
dependence on sophisticated electronic equipment grows, so does our
vulnerability to the effects of geomagnetic storms.

The USGS operates 13 magnetic observatories throughout the US, Alaska, 
Hawaii, Guam, and Puerto Rico that continuously monitor the Earth's magnetic
field. The data are received by satellite in near-real time at the National
Geomagnetic Information Center in Golden, Colo., as one operational arm of
the Geologic Hazards Team. These data are used by many customers, such as
NOAA's Space Weather Office for alerting power companies and others to
impending hazards,a nd by the US Air Forc Space Weather Operations Center
at Falcon Air Force Basein Colorado Springs, Colo., that supports 
high-priority National Space Programs, United States Space Command, Air 
Force Space Command and its component commands, NORAD, NASA space shuttle
operations, and military surveillance and communications systems.

As the Nation's larges water, earth and biological sicence and civilian
mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with mre than 2000 
organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial, sicentific
information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This
information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize
the loss of life and property from natural disasters, contribute to the sound
conservation, economic and physical development of the Nation's natural
resources, and enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological,
energy and mineral resources.