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G5 solar storm alert

G5 Solar Storm Alert: Potential Impacts on GPS & Communication Systems

DENVER, COLORADO – As we head into the weekend, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a severe warning for a G5 geomagnetic storm, marking the most intense solar activity since last Halloween. This storm, originating from a large sunspot cluster more than 16 times the diameter of Earth, has already begun affecting the planet.

Here is what you can expect over the weekend as the storm continues.

The Spectacular Side: Northern Lights in Colorado

This solar storm offers a rare visual treat for residents of Northern Colorado and beyond. Under the cloak of night, you may witness the stunning aurora borealis, which is seldom seen this far south. The skies are expected to light up with vibrant colors that are usually reserved for viewers in higher latitudes. This phenomenon not only adds a splash of beauty to the night sky but also serves as a unique opportunity for photographers and nature lovers to capture a moment that is rarely afforded to our region.

A map from the Space Weather Prediction Center shows the aurora forecast for the U.S. on May 10, 2024.

The Cautionary Side: Impact on Outdoor Activities

However, with great spectacle comes significant risk, particularly for those planning outdoor activities. The intensity of the storm means potential disruptions to GPS signals, communications, and even the energy grid. Here’s how you can prepare if you’re heading into the backcountry:

  1. Navigation: Traditional GPS devices and smartphones may be unreliable. Consider carrying a map and a compass as essential backups and familiarize yourself with their use before your trip.

  2. Communication: Satellite phones and other communication devices could also face disruptions. Inform someone of your plan and expected return, just in case.

  3. Power: Solar storms can affect power grids and electronic equipment. Carry extra batteries and consider portable solar chargers, but prepare for the possibility they might not function optimally.

  4. Light Pollution: If you’re heading out to catch the northern lights, remember that light pollution can severely impact the visibility of auroras. Choose a spot away from city lights and give your eyes time to adjust to the darkness.

Safety Tips for Outdoor Enthusiasts:

  • Plan Ahead: Check the latest weather and geomagnetic forecasts. NOAA will continue to provide updates throughout the weekend.
  • Prepare for Emergencies: Pack emergency supplies including water, food, warm clothing, and a first aid kit.
  • Stay Informed: Keep a battery-powered radio handy to receive updates if your mobile device fails due to the storm.


While the prospect of witnessing the aurora borealis in Colorado is an exciting one, it is crucial to prioritize safety above all. This weekend, as you venture into the beauty of our natural landscapes, let prudence guide your journey under the extraordinary skies.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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Hi, I'm Alex!

In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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