A massive magnitude 7.3 quake, reduced to 7.1 by USGS was recorded in the middle of the severe G4-class geomatic storm this morning near the Kermadec islands of New Zealand, the massive quake was less than 50km deep, there has been no mention of a tsunami warning. The powerful quake was one of the biggest of the year and was the 47th major quake, (mag 6 or higher) of a very busy seismic 2023 so far. Many of the most powerful quakes this year have been linked to solar activity just as the one this morning.
Arriving earlier than expected, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on April 23rd beginning at 1737 UT, sparking a severe G4-class geomagnetic storm, see NOAA graph below.
Auroras spread as high as New Zealand and Tasmania in the Southern Hemisphere and Europe as far south as France. According to Spaceweather.com bright red auroras were also spotted over China. In the US auroras could be seen across Mid-latitude sightings including North Carolina, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, California and Oklahoma.
Apart from the seven X-Class flairs so far this year, ( the same number as the whole of last year) we have on several occasions enjoyed fantastic Aurora light shows as far south as Southern England, France, Germany and Switzerland along with many states in the US along the Northern Hemisphere.
On the 9th of January, something happened that I have never witnessed before in my 17 years of blogging . . . A very powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake rocked Indonesia at precisely 18:47:30 UTC—Less than 3 minutes later at 18:50, our Sun launched a powerful X-Class flare from sunspot AR3182! Coincidence?
After nearly two weeks of constant solar activity and threats from numerous DANGEROUS sunspots, Earth's magnetosphere received a powerful shock wave from a Coronal Mass Ejection, (CME) on January 15th. The CME had exploded from the sun three days earlier and managed to spark bright red auroras as far south as England according to Spaceweather.com.
An enormous twist of dark plasma left the sun on Jan. 14th, propelled by a double-dip M4-class solar flare cloaked in the magnetic canopy of sunspot AR3182: The debris carved a spiralling path through the sun's atmosphere, a blender-like process that hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. We got lucky, the CME was not heading directly for Earth.
On January 18th, massive sunspot AR3190 was locked n' loaded!—And had taken aim while facing Earth. It was the biggest sunspot in years, more than four times the size of Earth and was now facing our planet directly. It was so big it could be seen with the naked eye. If a sunspot this size, and in this position was to release a very powerful X-Class flare it would be devasting for the earth and the people living on it as well as the very important satellites we use for everyday life. A direct hit would, in a flash, knock out all GPS and internet signals, crippeling everything from banking to toilet systems and knocking out the power grid, trapping people in lifts and destroying life support systems such as pacemakers and ventilators. It would literally knock us back into the 18th century. But, once again we got lucky sunspot AR3190 was all mouth and no trousers, it didn't fire . . .
The fireworks KEPT on coming though—The 6th X-Class Flare of 2023 exploded from the sun's surface at the beginning of March. According to Spacewether.com the explosion also produced a coronal mass ejection (CME). The bulk of the CME would once again clearly miss Earth. However, we were treated to fantastic Auroras in the northern and southern hemispheres, a fantastic but gentle reminder.
G1-class geomagnetic storms arrived on March 4th and 5th in response to a CME, hurled into space by an M8.6-class flare of Feb 28th, once again, the CME was not heading directly for Earth.
The fantastic auroras seen around the world earlier that week were possible after the solar wind hitting the Earth's magnetosphere was measured at an incredible 866km per second, this was the fastest recorded solar speed since October 2017 and caused dazzling auroras in the northern and southern hemispheres for three nights with the light-show as far south as northern France in Europe.
However, 866km per second was soon to be dwarfed into insignificance, and how! During the early hours of March 13th, SOHO coronagraphs recorded a farside halo CME leaving the sun at a rate faster than "3,000 km per second." We should, once again, be on our knees, praying to God after our planet, not for the first time recently was at the right place at the right time, after yet another coronal mass ejection, (CME) missed us once again.
This one, however, was very powerful and if it had been an earthquake would no doubt have jumped off the Richter scale. It was what our American friends call, a 'DOOZY,' our British friends call a 'CORKER' and the Aussies, a 'RIPPER!' Had this CME hit our planet's defence mechanism, the magnetosphere head-on, well, we would today be sat behind our telephone and computer screens without any power . . . No internet, no power, no electricity, no satellites. . . Nothing. I certainly wouldn't be writing this post!
Once again, Divine intervention? This very special CME has fired away from Earth and had been clocked at over 3,000km per second which is a 'mega event' and can be compared to the Carrington Event in 1859 which took down the internet of the time, the telegraph system. And also the mighty solar flare of 2012 which, once again luckily missed our planet. I personally have never witnessed a CME of anything near this speed in all my years as a blogger! 3,000km per second is something this head can't comprehend, it is extremely rare and once again (I keep on saying this) we were very lucky, folks, it is a question of when and not if!
As April trundles toward May the fireworks continue, just 3 days ago a large magnetic filament snaking for hundreds of thousands of miles along our sun's southern hemisphere suddenly snapped and exploded hurling a massive solar storm towards Earth, this cloud of debris is what we are witnessing now.Credit NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.