M1.6 solar flare, G2 storm watch

Sunday, 10 October 2021 15:17 UTC

M1.6 solar flare, G2 storm watch

An M1.6 solar flare peaked yesterday at 06:38 UTC. Source of the eruption was sunspot region 2882 which was in an earth-facing position at the time. Type II and IV radio sweeps were observed which suggested straight away that the event should be eruptive and thus launch a coronal mass ejection towards Earth. When coronagraph imagery became available, it became quickly obvious that the solar flare indeed launched a coronal mass ejection towards our planet.

A fantastic full halo coronal mass ejection became visible as seen by SOHO/LASCO, the coronagraph imager watching coronal mass ejections as they leave the Sun as seen from Earth's perspective. The gorgeous full halo signature shows us the expanding cloud as it travels away from the Sun, towards Earth. There is not a shadow of a doubt that this cloud of solar plasma will arrive at Earth. The only question is when will it arrive and how strong will the geomagnetic storm become?

The American space weather service, the NOAA SWPC expects the M1.6 coronal mass ejection to arrive after midday UTC tomorrow, Monday 11 October while the European SIDC goes with an impact time of 20 UTC or later. We go along with the SIDC and think an arrival time during the UTC evening hours before midnight seems very reasonable. A moderate G2 geomagnetic storm watch (Kp6) has been issued by the SWPC and is in effect for tomorrow, 11 October with a minor G1 geomagnetic storm watch (Kp5) being in effect for Tuesday, 12 October. Under optimal conditions, aurora might become visible from latitudes like Tasmania in Australia, Scotland, southern Sweden and the Baltic states. The northern states in the USA should also stay alert as they approach nightfall in case we do get the expected geomagnetic storm conditions. The coronal mass ejection passage could be followed by the onset of a coronal hole solar wind stream so we are in for a couple of interesting days early next week!

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