June 2015 – SPACE WEATHER – While solar storms are common, these higher category storms are considerably rarer, and in this instance was caused by pure chance. According to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Association, the storm was the result of two smaller ejections coinciding with a more recent fast-moving one. Combined they created what’s known as a G3 storm, which is categorized as ‘Strong.’ This is out of a rating of five categories with G1 being considered commonplace and G5 being ‘Extreme.’ The resulting storm caused a powerful red aurora that could be seen in parts of North America, the UK and was even captured on video in Australia.
While a G3 looks pretty, the damage expected to electrical equipment is considered minimal. G5 storms on the other hand have the potential to knock out entire transformer networks while completely disabling GPS tracking capabilities. The last time the UK experienced a major aurora event was back in March when a powerful G4 storm struck the Earth. G4 storms are extremely rare, with only eight expected every 11 years. G3 storms like this one however are slightly more common with 175 expected every 11 years. –Huffington Post
While a “severe” solar storm that sparked dazzling auroras around the world on Monday through Tuesday morning is dying down now, skywatchers shouldn’t stop looking up quite yet. Another potentially powerful solar tempest is expected to impact Earth on Wednesday into Thursday, and it could create more amazing auroras for people in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In particular, the next solar storm is especially well aimed to enhancing aurora activity over North America, according to experts at the National Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado. Monday’s solar storm hit the G4 or “severe” level, a relatively rare class of storm that can create bright auroras in relatively low latitudes. Such G4 storms — the rating scale goes up to G5 — can also cause problems with power grids on Earth and harm satellites in space. And another storm of that severe magnitude is likely on its way to Earth now. Scientists at the SWPC are anticipating that the solar storm predicted to arrive Wednesday could, yet again, produce beautiful auroras in relatively low latitudes. At the moment, the SWPC is predicting a G3 or “strong” storm on Wednesday and Thursday, but that was the forecast for Monday, as well. –Mashable