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The K7RA Solar Update


No sunspots were observed between March 2 and March 15. One sunspot made a brief appearance on March 2, after a blank sun on March 1. Average daily sunspot number dropped from 1.6 to zero this week, and average daily solar flux rose fractionally from 67.6 to 67.7. We’ll be watching the latest sunspot appearance to see if it is as fleeting as the March 2 sunspot.
Geomagnetic indicators rose slightly, with planetary A index increasing from 5.1 to 7.1, and mid-latitude A index rose from 4.6 to 5.7.
Predicted solar flux is 69 on March 16-23, 72 on March 24-29, 70 on March 30, 68 on March 31 through April 11, 70 on April 12, 72 on April 13-25, 70 on April 26, and 68 on April 27-29.
Predicted planetary A index is 15 on March 16-18, 10 on March 19, 5 on March 20-22, then 8, 5, 8 and 20 on March 23-26, 5 on March 27-29, 8 on March 30-31, 5 on April 1-9, then 8, 10, 14, 16 and 20 on April 10-14, 5 on April 15-16, then 12, 18, 10, 5, 8 and 20 on April 17-22, then 5 on April 23-25, 8 on April 26-27, and 5 on April 28-29. 
Carl Luetzelshwab, K9LA, has a comment about solar flux and an observation from N0JK in last week’s bulletin ARLP010:
 “Jon Jones, N0JK said ‘Sometimes the solar flux numbers don’t correlate well to the actual ionization.’
 “What Jon said is more the norm than the exception, as solar radiation is not the only factor that contributes to the amount of ionization at any given location. There are two other factors. One is geomagnetic field activity (the K index), which can modify the amount of ionization. The other is an event in the lower atmosphere that couples up to the ionosphere, which also can modify the amount of ionization and which is a very hot topic with researchers nowadays.
“The bottom line is if today’s solar flux is higher than yesterday’s, it does not necessarily mean that the ionosphere is better today – it could be worse. The result of all of this is that we have monthly median propagation predictions (they are statistical over a month’s time frame), not daily propagation predictions.” 
This in from Tamitha Skov on early Thursday in a message titled “Solarstorm Mania all over the News:”
“How ironic is it that only one week after I talk about significant advances towards making Space Weather a household name, we get smacked in the face with a bogus story about a massive solar storm threatening to swallow the Earth?  From what I’ve heard, this story began innocently enough– someone misread an info-graphic on a Russian space weather website. But then the mistake went viral. Over the past few days, reports spread around the globe, sending people into a panic. I’ve watched major news agencies publish the story, only to print embarrassing retractions a day later. All of this simply because they ran with a story they did not have the expertise to fact check.  I hate to admit it, but just as I thought we were doing so well, I am reminded of how far we have yet to go.
“This week our Sun is indeed sending us a solar storm, but it’s not all fire and brimstone. It’s the weak, wispy kind we continue to expect as we approach solar minimum. The fact that the storm is weak actually brings us some good news. For amateur radio operators and emergency communicators already wrestling with poor radio propagation conditions on Earth’s day side, communications might improve on Earth’s night side, especially with auroral propagation. GPS users should also enjoy the quiet conditions, but be aware for glitches, especially after sunset and at higher latitudes where aurora is active. As for aurora sightings during this weak storm, reports are coming in from Norway, Sweden, and Finland as well as from Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan Canada. In the U.S.A. aurora has been sighted as far south as Michigan and Minnesota.
“While these solar storm effects are surely noteworthy, they are hardly catastrophic or even massive. So as far as all the hype?  I think we can safely put that story to bed.” 
Geomagnetic activity forecast for the period March 16 to Apr 10, 2018 from F.K. Janda, OK1HH.
 “Geomagnetic field will be:
Quiet on March 20, 24, 28-29, April 1-2, 4-9
Mostly quiet on March 21, 30-31, April 3
Quiet to unsettled on March 19, 22-23, 25, 27
Quiet to active on March 16-18
Active to disturbed on March 26
Solar wind will intensify on March 16-18, (19-20, 25-26, April 3-?).
– Parenthesis means lower probability of activity enhancement.”

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