A major solar storm has approached and hit Earth on Tuesday, powerful enough to produce an aurora that stretched over Oregon. It could also be seen from certain places in the southern hemisphere.
The storm arrived almost 15 hours earlier than predicted.
Although the storm was expected to be of level 1 – according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) scale that grades storms in the 1 to 5 bracket – it was classified as a level 4. Its geomagnetic effects could cause a disruption in power grids and satellite operations; however, no signs of damage have been recorded yet, according to the Associated Press.
These storms occur as part of space weather. Energy dissipated from the sun meets with the Earth’s atmosphere and geomagnetic field.
NOAA scientists calculated the event to last between 24 and 36 hours, according to USA Today.
Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, said, “It’s significantly stronger than expected.”
Although there is a considerable drop in the intensity of the storm, its presence could be felt throughout the day.
The Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, will also be visible in some parts of southern USA; however, forecasters are not certain about the extent of the visibility of lights in these areas.
Space weather branch chief, Brent Gordon, said there is a “very strong possibility” for people in Tennessee and Oklahoma to enjoy the view of the lights if the storm doesn’t recede by Tuesday. Auroras have been visible before sunrise on Tuesday in the northern parts of the U.S. such as Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Russia, northern Europe and central Germany and Poland are also likely to be able to observe the sky show.