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Incoming CME clouds and solar storm levels – updates and explanations


Two major X-class solar flares (X5.4 and X1.3) produced direct Full halo plasma cloud which is heading toward Earth. The solar wind is expected to increase to over 800 km/s, resulting with strong geomagnetic storming on March 8th. You can see the CME forecast track on new WSA-Enlil Solar Wind Prediction.


A moderate G2 Geomagnetic Storm (Kp=6) was sparked by an incoming CME impact from an explosion earlier in the week. The IMF pointed -20nT South for long periods and this likely helped intensify the storm. The Kp has now dropped below storm levels, however the chances are good for an even bigger storm on Thursday due to a larger incoming plasma cloud.


The CME that erupted late on March 4 passed ACE around 0400 UTC March 7 (11:00 p.m. EST March 6). As a result, storming reaching the G2 (Moderate) level continues at this time.

Another CME, part of the recent R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout event at 0024 UTC March 7 (7:24 p.m. EST March 6) is forecast to pass ACE early morning UTC on March 8 (start of day EST March 8). Geomagnetic storm periods reaching the G3 (Strong) level are likely from that CME.

Finally, a Solar Radiation Storm is also in progress and levels are currently above the S3 (Strong) threshold. Geomagnetic A-index of 20 or greater predicted. Region 1429 remains potent and subsequent activity is certainly possible.



NOAA Scales Activity

Range 1 (minor) to 5 (extreme)

NOAA Scale

Geomagnetic Storms *

Solar Radiation Storms

Radio Blackouts

Such events are more than capable of affecting space-based telecommunications, broadcasting, weather services and navigation through to power distribution and terrestrial communications, especially at northern latitudes.

G3  LEVEL (STRONG) Geomagnetic storm can activate false alarms on some protection devices, some power systems may required voltage corrections,  surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.  Intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur and HF radio may be intermittent. At this level (Kp=7) aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50° geomagnetic lat.).

G2 LEVEL (MODERATE) Geomagnetic storm can cause voltage alarms at high-latitude power systems  and  it may cause transformer damage if its long-duration storm. Spacecraft operations may require corrective actions to orientation by ground control and there is possibility for changes in drag affect orbit predictions. HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes. At this level (Kp=6), aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55° geomagnetic lat.).

S3 (STRONG) Solar radiation LEVEL  can cause single-event upsets, noise in imaging systems and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panel. Passengers and crew in high-flying aircraft at high latitudes may be exposed to radiation risk and astronauts are recommended for radiation hazard avoidance. Degraded HF radio propagation through the polar regions and navigation position errors are very likely.

R3 Radio Blackout (STRONG) LEVEL can cause blackout of HF radio communication at wide area and loss of radio contact for about an hour on sunlit side of Earth. Low-frequency navigation signals degraded for about an hour.

NOAA/SWPC gives 30% chances for active geomagnetic storming at mid-latitudes and 40% possibility of severe geomagnetic storming at high latitudes in the next 24 hours. And 80% chances for new M-class events and 30% chance for new X-class solar flare even.


Sunspot 1429

Massive sunspot 1429 is cracking with solar flares for the last few days. It now faces Earth which is bad news considering its recent activity. NOAA/SWPC forecasters gives 80% chance of new M-class solar flares and 30 % chance for new X-class flare events.

Today’s NOAA Active Regions
Group Number
McIntosh Class
Number of Spots
11423 N18W91
α/α Hsx/Hsx 0030/0120 01/01
11428 S16W03
β/β Dai/Dai 0250/0250 17/14
11429 N17E17
βγδ/βδ Dkc/Dkc 1120/0770 25/20 C1.6(16:19)
11430 N19E01
β/ Dao/Dao 0110/0090 11/14 C8.3(04:33)


Solar wind
speed: 406.2 km/sec
density: 8.6 protons/cm3

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: X5 0028 UT Mar07
24-hr: X5 0028 UT Mar07

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 132 sfu

Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3 quiet

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal16.3 nT
Bz13.7 nT south 

3-day Solar-Geophysical Forecast issued Mar 06 22:00 UTC

Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be moderate. Additional M-class events from Region 1429 are likely. There is also a chance for a major flare and/or proton producing event from Region 1429 during the next three days (07-09 March).

Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected to be unsettled to active with a chance for minor storm periods during the next 24 hours (07 March). The increase in activity is expected due to combined effects from a co-rotating interaction region with the CME that occurred on 04 March (associated with the M2 x-ray event). Later in the day additional effects are expected due to a glancing blow from the full halo CME associated with the X1 x-ray event that occurred on 05 March. Predominantly unsettled levels with a chance for active periods are expected for the second day (08 March) as effects from the anticipated disturbance should diminish. Predominantly quiet levels are expected for the third day (09 March).

UPDATE: 11:05 UTC, March 8th – IMPACT!!

The ACE Spacecraft detected a shock passage and a Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse measuring 58 nT at the Boulder Station was just recorded. The Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) caused by the X5.4 Solar Flare is now impacting Earth.

WARNING: Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse expected
Valid From: 2012 Mar 08 11:00 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Mar 08 11:45 UTC
IP Shock Passage Observed: 2012 Mar 08 10:45 UTC

Geomagnetic Sudden Impulse!!
Observed: 2012 Mar 08 11:05 UTC
Deviation: 58 nT
Station: Boulder

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