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What are the effects of the solar storm hitting Earth, leading to vibrant light displays across the Northern Hemisphere?

A potent solar storm made a striking impact on Earth, painting the skies of the Northern Hemisphere with breathtaking hues early Saturday. Fortunately, there were no immediate reports of disruptions to power or communications.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued an unusual severe geomagnetic storm warning after a solar outburst reached Earth earlier than expected on Friday afternoon. The mesmerizing effects of the Northern Lights were prominently visible in Britain and were expected to continue throughout the weekend and possibly into the following week.

Social media platforms were flooded with snapshots of the dazzling light displays in the U.K. during the early hours of Saturday, with sightings reported as far south as London and southern England.

Chris Snell, a meteorologist at the Met Office, Britain’s weather agency, noted sightings across the country, with reports and images coming in from other European cities like Prague and Barcelona.

NOAA took precautionary measures, alerting operators of power plants, spacecraft in orbit, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) about the storm’s potential impact.

While the storm could bring the Northern Lights as far south as Alabama and Northern California in the U.S., experts cautioned that it might not resemble the dramatic displays typically associated with auroras, but rather sporadic splashes of greenish hues.

Rob Steenburgh, a scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, suggested that phone cameras might capture the auroras better than the naked eye, offering a unique visual treat to observers.

The solar storm, although not expected to rival the intensity of the 1859 event, which produced auroras as far south as central America, still poses risks for power grids and satellites, potentially disrupting navigation and communication services on Earth.

Despite the storm’s potential hazards, NASA assured that the seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station were not in serious danger. Increased radiation levels were the primary concern, with contingency plans in place to relocate the crew to a safer area if necessary.

As the sun continues to ramp up its activity nearing the peak of its 11-year cycle, NASA and other space agencies are closely monitoring the situation, ensuring the safety of both astronauts and satellites amidst the solar fireworks.

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