Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on Dec. 15th or 16th in response to an incoming solar wind stream with a stealthy CME embedded in it. Storm levels could escalate to category G2 (Moderate) or G3 (Strong) on Dec. 17th when the CME from yesterday’s X2.8-class flare arrives.
Strongest flare of the current solar cycle
Sunspot 3514 erupted on Dec. 14th (1702 UT), producing a strong X2.8-class solar flare. This is the strongest flare of Solar Cycle 25 (so far) and the most powerful eruption the sun has produced since the great storms of Sept. 2017. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:
Radiation from the flare has caused a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Americas. Ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal at all frequencies below 30 MHz for more than 30 minutes after the flare. This is maybe why there were so many bad internet connections across the US and the world?
This explosion probably launched a fast-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) Soon after the blast, the US Air Force is reported a Type II solar radio burst, which typically comes from the leading edge of a CME. Based on the drift rate of the radio burst, the CME’s velocity could exceed 2100 km/s (4.7 million mph).
Confirmation: Newly-arriving images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) show a lopsided halo CME:
Although this CME is not squarely aimed at Earth, it does appear to have an Earth-directed component. A glancing blow is likely on Dec. 17th. [FB]
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