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Anticipation builds for more Northern Lights as solar activity peaks

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IN the wake of a mesmerising display of the aurora borealis last weekend, experts predict further celestial spectacles are imminent due to heightened solar activity. A substantial sunspot cluster, responsible for recent intense solar flares, is expected to face Earth again in approximately two weeks, potentially sparking more geomagnetic storms and Northern Lights displays.

Scientists at the Met Office, including space weather forecaster Krista Hammond, report that this activity is part of the approaching solar maximum, a peak phase in the Sun’s 11-year cycle marked by increased magnetic upheavals and sunspot production. This cycle, the 25th since systematic observations began in 1755, is proving more vigorous than anticipated.

Last Saturday’s geomagnetic storm, categorised as a G5—the highest alert level by both the Met Office and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—was the most severe since 2003. Triggered by multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the storm disrupted high-frequency radio communications globally and posed challenges to various satellite operations.

The aftermath of the storm highlighted our vulnerability to space weather. SpaceX’s Starlink satellites experienced significant strain, leading to voltage spikes, as reported by the European Space Agency (ESA). The added radiation also disturbed GPS signals, impacting everything from aviation—necessitating the reroute of a transatlantic flight—to precision farming, with reported disruptions in GPS-dependent agricultural machinery.

On Earth, the heightened electrical currents tested power grid robustness worldwide. In New Zealand, some circuits were temporarily shut down as a precaution, while the UK’s electricity network operators implemented measures like extra back-up generation to manage potential voltage fluctuations.

This heightened solar activity brings not only stunning natural displays but also underscores the critical importance of preparedness for space weather impacts. The UK government ranks extreme space weather as a significant threat on its national risk register, citing potential severe consequences such as widespread power outages and infrastructure damage.

According to Sean Elvidge, a professor in space environment at the University of Birmingham, the recent storm serves as a reminder of the potentially devastating effects of more powerful storms, like the historical Carrington Event of 1859, which disrupted telegraph systems and caused widespread fires.

As the Sun continues its active phase, the role of advanced forecasting and international cooperation in mitigating space weather effects becomes increasingly crucial. Agencies like NOAA and the Met Office are enhancing their monitoring capabilities, ensuring that critical infrastructure and governments worldwide are forewarned of impending solar storms, thus safeguarding both modern technology and the daily lives dependent on it.

Crime

Police appeal for information following assault at railway station

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OFFICERS in Pembrokeshire are investigating a report of an assault on a woman that happened outside Haverfordwest Railway Station at approximately 8:10pm on Monday (Jun 17).

One man, aged 49, was arrested on suspicion of common assault and remains in police custody.

Did you witness the assault or have any information that could help officers with their investigation? If so, get in touch:

🖥️ | https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline

📧 | [email protected]

💬 | Direct message us on social media

📞 | 101

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Busy weekend for the rescue team at HM Coastguard Dale

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HM Coastguard Dale said they were paged at 05.35 HRS to assist police in the Milford Haven area on Sunday (Jun 16).

Police received a call at 5am, raising concern for the welfare of an individual.

The individual is now safe they said.

Angle Lifeboat RNLI also attended the incident

Then at 10.13 HRS the team were called on again after a vessel reported a person face down on a cliff near Wooltack point. The team made their way to the scene and rendezvous with NCI Wooltack Point. It was quickly ascertained that this was a false call with good intentions. Team then stood down.

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Tributes paid to ‘much-loved’ couple who died in A477 collision

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THE FAMILIES of a much-loved couple who died in a collision on the A477 on Thursday, June 13, 2024, have paid tribute to them.

Katie Worrell, aged 25, and Adam Muskett, aged 27, were involved in a two-vehicle collision between Llanddowror and Red Roses at around 4pm on Thursday, June 13. Two cars were involved in the collision – a black Jaguar and a black Ford Fiesta.

A statement from Katie’s family said: “Katie was a much-loved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and cousin. She lived life to the full, loving to travel and achieving so much in such a short time, she graduated with a Masters and worked hard. She loved her friends and Adam beyond words. Katie was kind, caring and beautiful and our lives will never be the same without her.”

Adam’s family have issued a statement to say: “Adam, our loving son, brother, grandson and nephew. He loved life, his friends, Tenby, football and Katie very much. How do we move on without you, your big kind heart and cheeky smile. We are heartbroken and forever proud.”

Anyone travelling on the A477, at or near to that location at the time, is requested to contact Police.

Investigating officers would particularly like to speak to any motorists who were in the area at that time who have dash cam in their vehicles.

Anyone with any information can contact the police on 101.

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