'Moderate' geomagnetic storm headed for Earth; aurora could be visible tonight across far northern US

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A "moderate" geomagnetic storm is forecast for the Earth on Monday, which could cause a few fluctuations to the power grid at higher latitudes and could also affect some satellites, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.

The northern lights, aka the aurora borealis, could also be visible in some parts of the nation Monday night in northern-tier states from New England to Washington, according to SpaceWeather.com.

The storm is rated a "G2," which is the second level of NOAA's five-level storm scale. (G1 storms are minor, while G5s are considered extreme.)

The storm is courtesy of a solar flare: On Saturday, a solar flare from a sunspot hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth, which is causing the geomagnetic storm Monday, SpaceWeather.com said.

High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms and transformer damage could be possible if the storm lasts long enough, NOAA said.

Fact check:No, a massive solar storm is not approaching Earth any time soon

The northern lights in Alaska.
The northern lights in Alaska.

As for satellites, corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control.

The colorful aurora forms when the particles flowing from the sun get caught up in the Earth's magnetic field. The particles interact with molecules of atmospheric gases to cause the famed glowing red and green colors of the aurora.

It happened before: Roughly 2,700 years ago, an unusually powerful solar storm swept past the Earth

The lights are visible in both the far northern and southern parts of the world. The southern lights are known as the aurora australis.

Impacts from the geomagnetic storm are expected to wane by Tuesday and Wednesday, NOAA said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Aurora may be visible in northern US as solar storm heads for earth