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Solar storm-triggered Northern Lights likely across Finland – if clouds clear

Meteorologists say that an intense display of aurora borealis may be visible in skies throughout Finland this weekend, depending on cloud cover.

Revontulet leimuavat Olkkajärvellä
Aurora borealis, seen here over Rovaniemi in a file photo, may be visible if there's a break in the clouds. Image: Vesa Vaarama / Yle

A powerful solar storm caused severe geomagnetic disturbances on Thursday night, says the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), but Northern Lights were mostly invisible due to cloudy skies.

A solar storm, where the sun disperses large quantities of particles, radiation and gas, cannot harm humans on the ground, but it can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where global positioning system (GPS) and communications signals travel.

According to the FMI, the geomagnetic disturbances took place between 2 am and 4 am and lasted up to two minutes.

The most visible effect of solar activity, the Northern Lights, were observed in Rovaniemi and Suomussalmi late Thursday and early Friday, but most of the country was covered by clouds, says the FMI. 

The chance of spotting aurora borealis in all of Finland remains significant over the weekend. However, the weather forecast shows skies will likely be overcast in the whole country, hampering any sightings.

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