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The geomagnetic blitz of September 1941

December 1, 2016

Seventy-five years ago, on 18–19 September 1941, the Earth experienced a great magnetic storm, one of the most intense ever recorded. It arrived at a poignant moment in history, when radio and electrical technology was emerging as a central part of daily life and when much of the world was embroiled in World War II, which the United States had not yet officially entered.

Auroras danced across the night sky as voltage surged in power grid lines. A radio blackout interrupted fan enjoyment of a baseball game, while another radio program was interrupted by private phone conversations. Citizens, already on edge, wondered if neon lights were some sort of antiaircraft signal. And far away in the North Atlantic, the illuminated night sky exposed an Allied convoy to German attack.

These effects raised awareness within the scientific community and among the public of the societal significance of the effects that the Sun and outer space can have on the Earth—what we now call space weather.

Publication Year 2016
Title The geomagnetic blitz of September 1941
DOI 10.1029/2016EO059319
Authors Jeffrey J. Love, Pierdavide Coisson
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Eos, Earth and Space Science News
Index ID 70189813
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center