Attention aurora watchers: repeat performance due Wednesday

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 24, 2015 9:27 AM

(Reuters) - The Northern and Southern Lights, Mother Nature's kaleidoscopic treat, will make a repeat performance on Wednesday.

A solar storm will slam into the earth on Wednesday at about 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT) due to a solar flare earlier in the week, with the potential to disrupt power and satellite service, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center.

That will be the second solar storm to hit the earth this week. On Monday, a severe geomagnetic storm sparked an intense aurora, the natural electric phenomenon that creates bright and colorful light displays in the skies, that was visible much further from the poles than usual.

In northern latitudes, the Northern Lights are usually only visible in Canada, Alaska and northern Europe but were seen as far south as Washington, D.C. on Monday, according to local reports.

In the southern hemisphere, reports from Australia said the Southern Lights, usually only visible in Tasmania, were visible across much of the country.

On Wednesday, the Space Weather Prediction Center said the Northern Lights should be visible across most of Canada and in the U.S. northern tier states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and northern Maine.

The storms that began on Monday reached the "severe" G4 level on the Space Weather Prediction Center's geomagnetic storm scale.

The center measures geomagnetic storms on a five-level scale, with G1 a minor storm and G5 an extreme storm.

A G4 storm can cause possible voltage control problems for some power systems and degrade satellite navigation and radio service, the center said.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)