The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared a "Geomagnetic Storm Watch" this weekend which could make Halloween extra spooky.
The wave of solar energy headed for Earth could dazzle the night sky on Halloween night with auroras for people to spectate across the Northeast, to the upper Midwest, and over the state of Washington.
"A G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm watch has been issued for October 30. In response to the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from Region 2887 associated with the X1 flare, a G2 (Moderate) watch is in effect for October 31," NOAA said in a statement.
"We think the initial impact will happen during the daylight hours, so for aurora enthusiasts in the U.S., we are looking at overnight of the 30th into 31st for the best chance to see the aurora," said William Murtagh, director of the SWPC.
SWPC said the storm is rated as a G3 on a scale between 1 to 5 for space weather events. There's a chance that the radiation from the storm could disrupt communications systems or the operation of spacecraft and affect power grids. The watch covers the North Pole to the 50th parallel.
A Direct Hit for #Halloween! The #solarstorm launched during the X-flare today is indeed Earth-directed! NASA predictions confirm impact by early October 31. Expect #aurora to mid-latitudes, as well as #GPS reception issues and #amateur radio disruptions on Earth's nightside! pic.twitter.com/Jjk3eixWIq— Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) October 28, 2021
Space weather forecaster "Suspicious0bservers" explains more on this weekend's CME impact.
Sunspot activity is an 11-year cycle. We noted last year, a new cycle began and could be very active. It's expected to peak through 2025.
An active solar cycle could be bad news for the digital economy, as disruptions sparked by solar flares could create massive economic damage. While this current storm is unlikely to cause harm to communication systems, the next big one could be lurking around the corner.