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Will Solar Storm Be Seen in California Over Weekend?

A gigantic solar eruption may trigger a fascinating weekend of northern lights, perhaps bringing the show into view as far south as California, according to scientists.

After some early morning thunderstorms in Laguna Niguel on Thursday, the weekend forecast looks sunny and warm. However, the overall space forecast for the planet that we know as Earth might be a different story.

A solar storm was expected on Saturday morning and may last through Sunday, smashing into Earth's magnetic field, but it's nothing to worry about, scientists say.

The solar storm began Thursday when the sun unleashed a massive flare that hurled a cloud of highly charged particles racing toward Earth at 3 million m.p.h., called coronal mass ejection, NASA scientists say.

It was the sixth time this year that such a powerful solar outburst has occurred; none of the previous storms caused major problems, according to NASA scientists.

In severe cases, solar storms can cause , damage satellites and disrupt GPS signals and high-frequency radio communications. Airlines are sometimes forced to reroute flights to avoid the extra radiation around the north and south poles brought on by solar storms, according to scientists.

“The CME launched toward Earth by Thursday's X-flare is moving faster than originally thought. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab have revised their forecast accordingly, advancing the cloud's expected arrival time to 09:17 UT (5:17 am EDT) on Saturday, July 14. Weekend auroras are likely,” reported spaceweather.com.

The storm is part of the sun's normal 11-year cycle of solar activity, which is supposed to reach peak storminess next year, NASA scientists say.

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