CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters estimate a 60% chance of M-class solar flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on April 3rd as sunspot AR2644 continues to crackle with magnetic explosions. Extreme UV radiation from such flares can cause shortwave radio blackouts and other disturbances to the normal transmission of radio signals around the globe. Free: Solar Flare Alerts
THE SUN WAKES UP: Suddenly, solar flare activity is high. With little warning, sunspot AR2644 exploded on April 1st, producing an M4.4-class flare. That was the strongest solar flare of the year--for less than a day. The sunspot topped itself on April 2nd with a pair of M5-class explosions. This picture from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the instigating flare on April 1st:
Flashes of extreme ultraviolet radiation, like the one shown above, have been ionizing Earth's upper atmosphere and altering the normal propagation of radio waves around our planet. There have been at least three significant shortwave radio blackouts affecting, especially, the Pacific and Indian oceans. (Blackout maps: #1, #2, #3) People who might have noticed these blackouts include ham radio operators and mariners using low-frequency rigs for communication at frequencies below 10 MHz.
At least two of the explosions hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space. So far there is no evidence that the clouds will hit Earth. This conclusion is preliminary, however, so stay tuned for updates.