Category Archives: Space Weather

Solar Radiation Storms and Cannibal CMEs

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riede, who shares the following news from

SOLAR RADIATION STORM–NOW: For the second time in less than a week, energetic solar protons are raining down on Earth’s upper atmosphere. Forecasters call this a “solar radiation storm.” Today’s storm (near category S2) is rich in “hard protons” wiith energies greater than 50 MeV. It is causing a shortwave radio blackout inside the Arctic Circle and speckling the cameras of some Earth-orbiting satellites.

The plot above shows storm data recorded by NOAA’s GOES-18 satellite in Earth orbit. Sensors on the satellite are counting energetic protons as they pass by en route to Earth. Triggered by an explosion near the sun’s southwestern limb (inset), this storm could last for another 24 hours.

IS A ‘CANNIBAL CME’ COMING? Since Feb. 7th, the sun has hurled multiple CMEs into space. A handful of them might hit Earth this week. A new NOAA forecast model shows at least three solar storm clouds approaching for strikes on Feb. 13th:

Click to play the animated forecast model

The closely-spaced arrival of these three CMEs could spark G1 (Minor) to G2-class (Moderate) geomagnetic storms with high-latitude auroras in northern Europe, Canada, and northern-tier US states from Maine to Washington.

There’s a chance the CMEs will pile up to form a Cannibal CME. This happens when one fast-moving CME sweeps up slower-moving CMEs in front of it. Cannibal CMEs typically contain strong shocks and enhanced magnetic fields that do a good job sparking geomagnetic storms. If such a pile-up occurs, the combined strike could cause a G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm with auroras at mid-latitudes.

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X5-Class Solar Flare is the strongest of Solar Cycle 25

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following news from

GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH (G2): A CME launched into space by yesterday’s X5-class solar flare (see below) *does* have an Earth-directed component. According to a NASA model, it should strike our planet on Jan. 2nd. G2-class geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME arrives. CME impact alerts: SMS Text

MAJOR X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Mere hours after emerging over the sun’s eastern limb on Dec. 31st, big sunspot AR3536 erupted, producing a major X5-class solar flare. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

This is the strongest flare of Solar Cycle 25 (so far) and the most powerful eruption the sun has produced since the great storms of Sept. 2017.

Radiation from the flare has caused a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean: blackout map. Mariners and ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal at all frequencies below 30 MHz for more than 60 minutes after the flare’s peak (2155 UT).

Click here for more updates on

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X2.8-Class Solar Flare: Strongest of this solar cycle

Many thanks to SWLing Post Contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following news via


Sunspot 3514 erupted on Dec. 14th (1702 UT), producing a strong X2.8-class solar flare. This is the strongest flare of Solar Cycle 25 (so far) and the most powerful eruption the sun has produced since the great storms of Sept. 2017. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

Radiation from the flare has caused a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Americas: blackout map. Ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal at all frequencies below 30 MHz for more than 30 minutes after the flare.

This explosion probably launched a fast-moving coronal mass ejection (CME) Soon after the blast, the US Air Force is reported a Type II solar radio burst, which typically comes from the leading edge of a CME. Based on the drift rate of the radio burst, the CME’s velocity could exceed 2100 km/s (4.7 million mph).

Confirmation: Newly-arriving images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) show a lopsided halo CME:

Although this CME is not squarely aimed at Earth, it does appear to have an Earth-directed component. A glancing blow is likely on Dec. 17th. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text

Click here to stay up to date with all space weather events at

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SolderSmoke: Super Solar Storms May Not Be So Rare

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill Meara who shares the following article from the SolderSmoke Podcast:

Super Solar Storms May Not Be So Rare

Yesterday’s Washington Post had a good story about large solar storms. We are all aware of the Carrington Event (September 1859) but there were others. The Japanese painting above depicts an event of February 4, 1872.

From the Washington Post article:

Around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, 1872, the sky above Jacobabad suddenly brightened, as if a portal to heaven had opened. A passerby watched in amazement and terror, while a pet dog became motionless, then trembled. The godly glow morphed, from red to bright blue to deep violet, until morning.

Electric communication cables mysteriously glitched in the Mediterranean, around Lisbon and Gibraltar, London and India. Confused telegraph operators in Cairo reported issues in sending messages to Khartoum. One incoming message asked what was the big red glow on the horizon — a fire or a faraway explosion?

This of course reminded me of the event that I witnessed as a teenager in New York in 1972:

That post has resulted in a steady stream of comments, mostly from non-hams. Apparently people remember seeing the event, then search the web for clues as to what it was. Google brings them to that post on the SolderSmoke Daily News. The comments are usually along the lines of, “Wow! I saw it too!” Very cool.

Check out this article, the full SolderSmoke podcast, and much more on the SolderSmoke website! 

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Multiple CMEs and “Almost” X-Class Flare Incoming

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following item from

MULTIPLE CMEs ARE COMING: At least three CMEs are heading for Earth following a series of magnetic filament eruptions (#1, #2 & #3) earlier this week. Their collective arrival could spark G2-class geomagnetic storms with mid-latitude auroras on Nov. 30th and Dec. 1st. This forecast does not yet take into account a possible CME hurled toward us by today’s almost-X class solar flare. Keep reading!

ALMOST-X CLASS SOLAR FLARE: Sunspot AR3500 erupted on Nov. 28th (1950 UT), producing an M9.8-class solar flare–only percentage points below category X. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast:

A pulse of extreme UV radiation blacked out shortwave radio communications across the South Pacific Ocean and parts of the Americas: map. Mariners and ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal at frequencies below 20 MHz.

This explosion almost certainly hurled a CME toward Earth. Confirmation awaits fresh data from SOHO coronagraphs. Stay tuned.

Click here to check out this news and much more on!

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The Halloween Storm of 2003

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Troy Riedel, who shares the following item from


A CME heading straight for Earth on Oct. 28, 2003. The source was an X17-flare in the magnetic canopy of giant sunspot 486. Image credit: SOHO. Movie

Imagine waking up to this headline: “Half of Earth’s Satellites Lost!” Impossible? It actually happened during the Great Halloween Storms of 2003.

Turn back the clock 20 years. Solar Cycle 23 was winding down, and space weather forecasters were talking about how quiet things would soon become. Suddenly, the sun unleashed two of the strongest solar flares of the Space Age–an X17 flare on Oct. 28 followed by an X10 on Oct 29, 2003. Both hurled fast CMEs directly toward Earth.

Traveling 2125 km/s and 1948 km/s, respectively, each CME reached Earth in less than a day, sparking extreme (G5) geomagnetic storms on Oct. 29, 30, and 31, 2003. Auroras descended as far south as Georgia, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma: photo gallery.

Onboard the International Space Station, astronauts took shelter in the hardened Zvezda service module to protect themselves from high energy particles. Meanwhile, airline pilots were frantically changing course. Almost every flight over Earth’s poles detoured to lower latitudes to avoid radiation, costing as much as $100,000 per flight. Many Earth-orbiting satellites experienced data outages, reboots and even unwanted thruster firings. Some operators simply gave up and turned their instruments off. [Continue reading at…]

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Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Troy Riedel and Jock Elliott, who share the following news items from

RADIO AMATEURS HACK A NASA SPACECRAFT: Ham radio operators are picking up a strong signal from space. It’s NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft returning home after 17 years.

“I’m having fun with STEREO-A,” reports Scott Tilley (VE7TIL) of Roberts Creek, British Columbia. “The spacecraft is coming close to Earth this summer, and I can now receive its signal using a small 26-inch dish in my backyard.” Here is what he picked up on July 2nd:

“We caught an X-flare in progress,” Tilley says. “Naked-eye sunspot AR3354 was really crackling.”

STEREO-A left Earth on Oct. 26, 2006, launched from Cape Canaveral with its sister ship STEREO-B. Both spacecraft were on a mission to the far side of the sun. Over the years, they would circle behind behind the sun, beaming images back to Earth so scientists could make 3D models of solar activity. In 2014, STEREO-B failed and was not heard from again. STEREO-A kept going, and now it is on its way back. [Continue reading at…]


SUNSPOT COUNTS HIT A 21-YEAR HIGH: The sun is partying like it’s 2002. That’s the last time sunspot counts were as high as they are now. The monthly average sunspot number for June 2023 was 163, according to the Royal Observatory of Belgium’s Solar Influences Data Analysis Center. This eclipses every month since Sept. 2022:

Solar Cycle 25 wasn’t expected to be this strong. When it began in Dec. 2019, forecasters believed it would be a weak cycle akin to its immediate predecessor Solar Cycle 24. If that forecast had panned out, Solar Cycle 25 would be one of the weakest solar cycles in a century.

Instead, Solar Cycle 25 has shot past Solar Cycle 24 and may be on pace to rival some of the stronger cycles of the 20th century. The last time sunspot numbers were this high, the sun was on the verge of launching the Great Halloween Storms of 2003, which included the strongest X-ray solar flare ever recorded (X45), auroras as far south as Texas, and a CME so powerful it was ultimately detected by the Voyager spacecraft at the edge of the solar system.

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