While it was predicted by some scientists that this solar cycle (#24) maximum coming next year would be one of the weakest in decades, it might actually turn out to be even weaker than they thought. The sun continues to “underperform” in terms of the number of sunspots and this solar cycle appears to be continuing a recent trend of weaker and weaker cycles. In fact, the current predicted and observed size makes this the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 in February of 1906.
For the past week or so, there were no strong solar flares as the sun was largely devoid of any sunspots. Just today, the recent quiet spell on the sun was broken as a new sunspot emerged over the sun’s northeastern limb and it unleashed an M-class solar flare. The Earth was not in the line of fire for this particular solar flare given the current location of this new sunspot on the edge of the sun. In about a week or so, this seemingly active sunspot will turn squarely toward the Earth and we’ll continue to monitor all of its activity here at thesiweather.com.