Media Contact:
Barbara McGehan
NOAA Space Environment Center, Boulder, Colo.
(303) 497-6288,

NOAA’s Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., detected a major solar flare at about 15:25 UTC (11:25 a.m. EDT) on June 6, 2000. The SEC is predicting a strong geomagnetic storm aimed at Earth from this event. A large coronal mass ejection (CME) followed the solar flare ejecting billions of tons of plasma into space aimed at Earth. Solar flares are classified by their peak x-ray intensity, and this event was of the highest classification, which is a class X flare. (Click image for larger view.) [Image is a depiction of the systems that could be affected by a strong solar flare.]
SEC forecasters are predicting activity in Earth’s magnetic field to increase over the next few days. Strong geomagnetic storm levels (Category G3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales) are expected on June 8-9. The solar wind and particles produced as a result of this solar flare can cause Auroral displays in the northern latitudes of the United States. Power systems should experience only isolated effects. However, it is possible for satellites to experience surface charging, which can result in arcing between parts of the satellite. Very large geomagnetic storms also cause communication problems with satellites and affect their orbit. Such storms can also interfere with high frequency radio communications.
The large, complex sunspot region currently visible on the face of the Sun has already produced several (R3) radio blackouts. This region will remain visible from Earth for the next eight days. Continued major activity from this region is possible as it makes its transit across the solar disk.
The NASA ACE [Advanced Composition Explorer] satellite will detect any geomagnetic storms approaching Earth and provide NOAA with a warning about one hour before they reach Earth’s magnetic field. (Animation courtesy of NASA/European Space Agency SOHO satellite, .)
In March 1989, a solar storm occurred that knocked out the electrical system in all of Quebec and destroyed a large power transformer in New Jersey. That geomagnetic storm was many times greater than this one is predicted to be.
"Compared to the last three 11-year solar cycles, this one has been pretty disappointing. But finally, the Sun is starting to flex its muscles," according to solar forecaster Dave Speich.
Relevant Web Sites
* NOAA’s Space Weather
* NOAA’s Space Environment Center
* NOAA’s Space Weather Scales
* NOAA Space Weather Advisories
* Today’s Space Weather Forecast — Includes the latest image of the sun from   Earth-based telescopes positioned around the world.
* Real-time images of the Sun from NASA’s SOHO Satellite