Solar Storm Brings Breathtaking Northern Lights And Potential Electronic Disruptions

A massive solar storm, the largest in two decades, is expected to bring both magnificent views of the Northern Lights and potential communications disruptions across the globe.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a geomagnetic storm watch, the first in 20 years, in response to the solar flares that began on Wednesday.

NOAA believes the flares are associated with a sunspot 16 times the diameter of the Earth. The organization initially reported evidence of a “major disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field” but later elevated their projection to G5, the highest level for solar storms.

The solar eruptions, known as coronal mass ejections, send streams of cosmic particles into space that collide with Earth’s atmosphere. NOAA warned of potential widespread voltage control problems, protective system issues, and even complete grid system collapses or blackouts.

The size of these solar flares means the Northern Lights could be visible as far south as California and Alabama, a rare occurrence. Witnesses have already begun posting incredible photographs of the natural phenomenon on social media.

NOAA advises the public to stay properly informed of the storm’s progression throughout the weekend. The last solar storm of similar magnitude occurred in October 2003 resulting in damaged transformers in South Africa and power outages in Sweden.