Between 7 and 8 p.m.Tuesday night, the sun spit out a large, X5-class solar flare. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center called it “one of the largest solar flares of the current solar cycle.”
X class flares are the strongest category of solar flares. According to NASA, they can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.
These flares are often complemented by phenomena known as coronal mass ejections (CME) which are essentially bursts of solar wind. If a CME is directed towards the Earth, a geomagnetic storm results that can interfere with the Earth’s magnetosphere.
NOAA said predictions for this particular flare/CME event “are still being refined.”
SpaceWeather.com wouldn’t draw any conclusions about where the CME might go.
“First-look data from STEREO-B are not sufficient to determine if the cloud is heading for Earth,” it said.
Its “best guess” was that CME probably won’t directly head for Earth, but rather produce a “glancing blow” on March 8 or 9. [...]
So we wait and see.
UPDATE 03-07-12 9:am
Full Halo CME heading straight for Earth on Thursday, strong effects forecast
(TheWeatherSpace.com) - A sunspot nearly the size of Jupiter; AR1429, has unleashed a powerful X5-Class eruption from the Sun and it could cause geological effects, according to one.
Even though it was not directly squared at our planet, model predictions have put Earth in the center of the blast zone, with 800 k/m + solar wind coming toward our geomagnetic fields on Thursday.
It will hit at 09:00 UT on Thursday, March 8th 2012. This means that it will hit during the United States aurora oval hours tonight when the oval extends down into the country. Will it spark bright auroras into the mid-latitudes?
TheWeatherSpace.com Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin has studied space weather effects and geological triggers for many years post 1999. Martin has some chilling information to give.
"I'm a meteorologist, but I know patterns and numbers well and the last strong X-event that hit our planet on this scale "coincidentely" triggered the Japan quake and tsunami last year," said Martin. "Geomagnetic storms could very well be a trigger for these quakes as they react deep within the crust and mantle where magnetic rocks lie. There are things we just cannot ignore even if we cannot see them."
NOAA expects a major geomagnetic storm with this arrival. Already a Kp-Index of 6 (Strong) is in progress across the planet due to an X1-Class this past weekend. This X5-Class has yet to impact and is coming — straight for us at 800 km/sec.
Most scientists say there is no proven link between flares and earthquakes. But others argue that, there are lots of "coincidences".