Early today, (Aug 3, 2011) two active regions on the Sun, sunspot 1261 and 1263 unleashed solar flares, which was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The above video shows an M6 class flare from 1261 in a couple of different wavelengths. SolarstormWatch, a citizen science project through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England predicts the solar storm from the larger flare to reach Earth at 15:00 UTC on August 5, 2011, and also predict direct hit on Earth.
See below for a graph of the activity:
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Solar storms are a concern if they hit Earth directly since under the right conditions, they can create extra electrical currents in Earth’s magnetosphere. The electrical power grid is vulnerable to any extra currents, which can infiltrate high-voltage transmission lines, causing transformers to overheat and possibly burn out.
Check SpaceWeather.com and the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center for more information.