NOAA 2000-607
Contact: Barbara McGehan


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo, detected a major solar flare and has issued a forecast for solar activity to persist at moderate to high levels for the next 24-36 hours. Using the newly developed Space Weather Scales, the storm is categorized as a severe storm or G-4 event, with the possibility the storm will reach the highest level of warning or G-5. It could have implications for power distribution systems, satellite communication and radio navigation.

The storm began today (April 6), in Earth's magnetic field at 12:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time. The storm originated from activity on the sun that occurred at 10:34 A.M Eastern Daylight Time on April 4.

The solar wind and particles produced as a result of this event can produce Auroral displays in the northern latitudes. Space weather forecaster Eric Ort, in the NOAA Space Environment Center Space Weather Operations, has received reports from Dublin, Ireland, saying the northern lights display there was "spectacular." The center of the storm is expected to rotate westward through tonight. The preferred times of brightest auroral display is in the four hours centered on midnight. At this time, forecasters think the intense part of the storm will ease by tomorrow night but with a chance of another outbreak on April 9.

So far the solar cycle that is now approaching maximum has not produced an
abundance of major geomagnetic storms. The rate of activity is expected to continue to increase though the next few months. Solar maximum as determined by sunspot numbers is expected later this year but the full volley of geomagnetic storms may not occur for another two years or so.

NOAA's Space Environment Center is the Nation's official source of space weather alerts and warnings and continually monitors and forecasts Earth's space environment.