"Extreme" G5 geomagnetic storm reaches Earth, NOAA says, following "unusual" solar event

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2024-05-11 11:30:02

An "extreme" G5 geomagnetic storm reached Earth on Friday, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said, after issuing a watch earlier in the day warning of the potential for a severe impact. 

"Widespread voltage control problems and protective system problems can occur," NOAA warns. "Some grid systems may experience complete collapse or blackouts. Transformers may experience damage." 

A geomagnetic storm also means aurora borealis , otherwise known as the northern lights , could be seen as far south as Alabama and in Northern California. 

Earlier, NOAA had issued its first watch for a potential G4-level geomagnetic storm in almost 20 years. "If geomagnetic storms were hurricanes, 'severe' would be category 4," says. 

In a press release on Thursday, NOAA said the most recent series of solar events started on May 8, when a large cluster of sunspots produced "several moderate to strong solar flares." Solar flares are bursts of radiation known to be the solar system's largest explosive events, according to NASA. The area where the flares are occurring is 16 times the diameter of Earth, the NOAA said, and more solar activity is expected. 

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