Solar storm creates global light show, no serious complications reported

A A powerful solar storm on a Amazing sky light view The worldwide overnight blackout caused minor disruptions to power grids, communications and satellite positioning systems.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s severe geomagnetic storm conditions continued Saturday, and there were initial reports of power grid disturbances, disruption of high-frequency communications and global positioning systems.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency said no FEMA region has been significantly impacted by the storms so far. The U.S. Department of Energy said Saturday that the storm did not affect electric customers.

NOAA predicted strong eruptions would continue through at least Sunday, and a spokeswoman said by email that the agency’s Space Weather Prediction Center was well prepared for the storm.

On Saturday morning, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite Internet service reported on its website that service quality was down and that its team was investigating. CEO Elon Musk wrote overnight on the social platform X that its satellites were “under a lot of pressure, but so far holding up.”

Brilliant purples, greens, yellows and pinks Northern Lights Sightings have been reported around the world in Germany, Switzerland, China, England, Spain and elsewhere.

In the US, Friday’s solar storm pushed the lights farther south than normal. The National Weather Service’s Miami office confirmed sightings in Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers, Florida. Another forecaster who lives near Fort Lauderdale photographed the lights and is familiar with them because he previously lived in Alaska, said meteorologist Nick Carr.

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, illuminate the night sky over Lake Balaton near Fonyot, Hungary, late Friday, May 10, 2024.  (Gyorgy Varga//AP via MTI)

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, illuminate the night sky over Lake Balaton near Fonyot, Hungary, late Friday, May 10, 2024. (Gyorgy Varga//AP via MTI)

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are seen near the Nanshan Scenic Area in Urumqi, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Saturday, May 11, 2024.  An unusually strong solar storm has hit Earth.  There were no immediate reports of black skies, power outages or communications disruptions across the Northern Hemisphere early Saturday morning.  (AP via Chen Shuo/Xinhua)

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are seen near the Nanshan Scenic Spot in Urumqi, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Saturday, May 11, 2024. The unusually strong solar storm that hit Earth created stunning scenes. There were no immediate reports of black skies, power outages or communications disruptions across the Northern Hemisphere early Saturday morning. (AP via Chen Shuo/Xinhua)

People in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and other Midwestern states were able to capture photos of the bright colors on the horizon.

Saturday night provided another opportunity for many to witness the spectacle as the solar storm continued throughout the weekend.

NOAA issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm warning Friday afternoon when a solar flare reached Earth, hours earlier than expected.

The agency alerted FEMA and operators of power plants and orbiting spacecraft to take precautions.

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights in Vancouver BC, Saturday, May.  11, 2024. (The Canadian Press via Ethan Cairns/AP)

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights in Vancouver BC, Saturday, May. 11, 2024. (The Canadian Press via Ethan Cairns/AP)

People watch the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, over Lake Washington in Renton, Wash.  (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

People watch the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, over Lake Washington in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Rob Steinberg, a scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, said: “For most people on Earth, they don’t have to do anything.

“This is really the gift of space weather: the aurora,” Steinberg said. He and his colleagues said the best shots could come from phone cameras that are better at capturing light with the naked eye.

By taking a picture of the sky, “you might actually be in for a nice little treat,” said Mike Bedvey, operations chief at the Prediction Center.

In this long-exposure photo, people look up at the night sky toward the northern lights, or aurora borealis, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Estacada, Ore.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm warning.  Friday afternoon when a solar flare reached Earth, hours earlier than expected.  The effects will last through the weekend and into next week.  (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

In this long-exposure photo, people look up at the night sky toward the northern lights, or aurora borealis, Friday, May 10, 2024, in Estacada, Ore. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm warning. Friday afternoon when a solar flare reached Earth, hours earlier than expected. The effects will last through the weekend and into next week. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, are visible in Homestead, Iowa, early Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP via Nick Rollman/The Gazette)

The aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, are visible in Homestead, Iowa, early Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP via Nick Rollman/The Gazette)

In 1859, the most intense solar storm in recorded history sparked auroras in Central America and even Hawaii.

NOAA space weather forecaster Shawn Dahl told reporters that the storm poses a risk to high-voltage transmission lines for power grids, not the power lines typically found in people’s homes. Satellites can also be affected, disrupting navigation and communication services on Earth.

For example, an intense geomagnetic storm in 2003 knocked out power in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

NOAA says that even after a storm ends, signals between GPS satellites and ground receivers can be scrambled or lost. But there are so many navigation satellites that any outage shouldn’t last long, Steinberg noted.

The Sun has produced strong solar flares since Wednesday, resulting in at least seven plasma eruptions. Each explosion, called a coronal mass ejection, ejects billions of tons of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona.

The flares appear to be associated with a sunspot 16 times the diameter of Earth, NOAA said. This is part of solar activity as the Sun approaches the peak of its 11-year cycle.

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Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Krisher from Detroit and Funk from Omaha, Nebraska.

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