‘Moderate’ Solar Storm Strikes the Earth, Offering Certain Regions Opportunity to Witness Northern Lights

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a significant solar flare from the weekend will make its way to Earth Wednesday as a “moderate” geomagnetic storm, causing the northern lights to be visible over the northern region of the United States.

A solar flare generated a coronal mass ejection from the sunspot AR2936, which had been quickly growing in size over the previous two days.

A CME erupted on Jan. 30, 2022 and is set to arrive at Earth on Feb. 2, 2022.  (Image credit: SOHO)

The area has grown so large that it could “consume our world five times over.”

How Strong Was This Magnetic Storm?

The event was designated as an M-class flare, which means that the first shock was strong enough to induce some radio blackouts in Earth’s polar regions, as X-class flares have the potential to inflict global outages.

The point was facing the direction of Earth by the time the solar flare went out.

Because of its straight path, the flare is predicted to cause a geomagnetic storm on Earth.

According to the NOAA, storms are graded from G1 to G5, with G1 storms resulting in the likelihood of limited power grid functionality and G5 storms causing widespread breakdown or blackouts of power networks.

This model from NOAA shows the time of impact of  the CME on Feb. 2, 2022. (Image credit: NOAA)

On Monday, the agency issued a G2 storm notice on Wednesday, indicating that the storm might cause voltage alarms in specific polar power systems.

According to SpaceWeather.com, the coronal mass ejection struck Earth’s magnetic field Tuesday night but did not cause a geomagnetic storm. The storm is still projected to strike when the Earth passes through the waves.

If this is the case, residents in Canada and states such as New York, Minnesota, and Washington will be able to see the northern lights on Wednesday night.

The storm is not predicted to be severe enough to harm electrical systems or satellites since it is an “aurora only” occurrence.

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, develop when particles from the ejection mix with Earth’s magnetic field, and the planet’s atmospheric gases produce the familiar blazing red and green hues.

According to the NOAA, the storm will likely diminish to a G1 storm by Thursday.

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