12:15 PM | Big sunspot unleashes a major solar flare; March warmth to be very impressive in the eastern and central US during the next couple of weeks


Sky watchers should stay on alert at all latitudes for the next couple of nights for possible “northern lights”. Yesterday, we talked about a huge sunspot rotating around the sun and it actually unleashed a major solar flare early last night that was classified as an “X5-class” eruption - the strongest one yet emanating from this particular sunspot. The coronal mass ejection (CME) from this latest eruption will be more of a direct hit than the weekend flare and it should begin to affect the Earth’s magnetic field late tonight and last through Friday morning. The CME is currently speeding towards the Earth at more than two million miles per hour. Skies should cooperate here tonight in the Mid-Atlantic region although a full moon could detract from the viewing if anything actually materializes.

Back on Earth, once we get by a brief setback in temperatures on Friday and Saturday, the overall weather pattern shaping for the next couple of weeks is looking very warm for the eastern half of the nation, and some March records may very well be set over this time period. As has been the case throughout much of the winter, the eastern and central US has enjoyed above-normal temperatures while much of the rest of the world has been colder-than-normal. In fact, while we enjoy the warmth here in this part of the country during the next couple of weeks, places like Eastern Europe, Alaska, eastern Asia and even the western US will stay quite cold.