The number of sunspots visible from earth has shot up in recent days to 339 and is still rising. This is the highest level since July of 2000. Sunspot group 9393 is one of the largest such groups seen in years, and among the largest ever seen. It's signature delta magnetic field could release a very powerful X-class eruption.
Solar weather forecasters are estimating a 20% chance of an X-class eruption over the twelve hours from 0900 CST 03/27/01.
An X-class eruption is the strongest form of solar flare, and can lead to mass blackout of radio transmissions, damage to satellites and power systems and possible earth-weather effects. Although studies of the relationship between solar weather and earth weather are ongoing, there is a growing body of evidence that flares lead to temporary heating or cooling of earth's atmosphere, depending on the type and duration of the event.
A coronal mass ejection that left the sun on March 25 will arrive lated today or tomorrow and may be powerful enough to trigger geomagentic disturbances. Alaskan sky watchers have reported some of the most intense auroras of the current solar maximum in the last few days.
A solar max takes place every eleven years, and the recent flip in the sun's magnetic field means that the current maximum is now at its most intense, and should begin declining over the next few months. The next solar max will commence in 2011-2012.
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