Breathtaking aurora borealis could be seen in Oregon on New Year’s Eve. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projected a solar flare to a G3 geomagnetic storm, a rating just two places away from the highest it could possibly be. Also known as “the northern lights,” the aurora borealis will be also seen in California’s Bay Area if the storm turns out to be stronger than the NOAA’s prediction, according to physicist Terry Onsager.

According to the federal scientific agency, a sunspot cluster erupted on Monday, Dec. 28, blasting an M-class flare at Earth. As a consequence, an ionization event produced a radio blackout over South America, Africa and the south Atlantic Ocean through an extreme-ultraviolet radiation that washed over the planet’s upper atmosphere for more than an hour. Mariners and ham radio operators in the 20MHz frequency range might have detected the Monday blackout.

People in Oregon may be able to witness the breathtaking “northern lights” on New Year’s Eve. Credit: Fan Pop

“Sunspot AR2374 has an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that could explode again in the hours ahead. NOAA forecasters estimate a 55 percent chance of additional M-class flares and a 10 percent chance of X-flares on Dec. 28th,” as written by NASA’s Tony Phillips. “

Strong solar flares can disrupt several Earth’s systems such as radio and GPS when they touch the planet’s atmosphere. Even though this week’s flare did not have the same strength as a major X-class flare, which is the most powerful, the event did cause an important coronal mass ejection (CME) that is racing towards Earth right now. Natural fireworks are expected to spark in the upper atmosphere on or around New Year’s Eve as a result of a direct hit of the CME with the planet’s magnetic field. The particles will paint the night sky in dazzling colors as soon as they reach Earth.

Source: Discovery News