• There won't be any massive geomagnetic storm hitting Earth on March 18.
  • NOAA said that there can be a minor geomagnetic storm.
  • Geomagnetic storms happen when Earth comes in the way of solar winds.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has clarified that the reports on the 'massive magnetic storm' expected to hit Earth on March 18 were exaggerated.

Some publications, including IBT India, had reported Monday that the massive geomagnetic storm would hit Earth on March 18. However, NOAA has debunked the reports.

The impending storm will barely reach the threshold of a G1, Newsweek reported. Geomagnetic storms are measured on a scale of G1 to G5, with G1 being the most minor and G5 being the most severe.

"This story is not plausible in any way, shape or form... Things are all quiet for space weather, and the sun is essentially spotless," said Bob Rutledge, the head of NOAA's Space Weather Forecast Center, according to the website. 

Solar flare

It was also reported that the previous speculation was based on a misinterpretation of a chart posted on Russia's Lebedev Institute's website, which shows that geomagnetic activity will go up a little bit on March 18.

It was erroneously reported before that the space activity on this weekend will affect the planet's geomagnetic atmosphere.

What are magnetic storms?

Magnetic storms happen when there is an efficient exchange of energy between the solar wind [which is actually a stream of charged particles released from the Sun's corona] and Earth's magnetosphere [which is the region around a planet where charged particles are affected by its magnetic field].

Effects of magnetic storms

Magnetic storms are known to affect telecommunication systems — upsetting radio communications, causing radar blackouts, and disrupting radio navigation system.

They also mess-up the power grids. Engineers are advised to shut down non-essential systems and prepare for a possible power grid fluctuation whenever a severe storm hits.

Auroras also light up the sky during this time. Auroras, which are sometimes referred as polar light, happen when the Earth comes in the way of a solar wind and its charged particles start striking atoms and molecules present in the magnetosphere of the planet, causing them to light up.

Moreover, European Union's Joint Research Centre (JRC) said powerful solar storms have the capabilities to impact crucial navigation and control systems across the continent's railway network.

"Railway networks could be affected in case of an extreme space weather event due to the direct impact on system components, such as track circuits or electronics, or indirectly via dependencies on power, communications, and progressively on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) for timing and positioning," ScienceAlert reported, quoting JRC.