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No blackouts reported as Quebecers take in spectacular solar storm


The geomagnetic storm currently affecting the Earth did not cause any power outages in Quebec, leaving its mark on the sky instead, as aurora borealis were spotted in several locations across the province on Friday night.

No power outages were caused by the solar storm by Saturday morning, said Hydro-Québec spokesperson Pascal Poinlane.

In 1989, a geomagnetic storm caused a nine-hour blackout on Hydro-Québec's transmission networks. 

Poinlane said that the company has "implemented several measures to improve the robustness of our transmission network" since then.

The current global storm, which began on Friday, is the strongest of its kind in 21 years, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hydro-Québec therefore remains "in vigilance mode."

"We have teams monitoring what's going on. We're looking at how geomagnetic storms affect voltage on our transmission lines," added Poinlane.

The effects of this storm, which will last until Sunday, will be felt until Monday, says Lorne McKeen, Head of Operations at the Canadian Space Weather Centre.

The northern lights as seen from Montreal's Trudeau Airport on May 10, 2024. (Louis Souverain)"With all this activity coming from the Sun towards the Earth, we can have disturbances in the ionosphere. These disturbances are associated with the aurora borealis," said McKeen, but also with power outages, radio transmission problems and GPS satellite failures.

Northern lights spotted from Saint-Jude, Que. on May 10, 2024. (Dilani Abeywickrama)Aurora borealis were seen in Montreal, where the phenomenon rarely appears, on Friday night, as well as in several other locations across Canada.

A view of the northern lights on May 10, 2024 from Cote Saint-Luc in Montreal. (Lori Bellerdine)More aurora borealis could appear across the country, particularly in the south, on Saturday night, according to McKeen.

The aurora borealis coloured the skies of several countries around the world between Friday and Saturday night, in territories further south than usual, such as California, due to the geomagnetic storm. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 11, 2024. Top Stories

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