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Northern lights photos released as strong solar storm hits Earth

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Northern lights were visible in much of the U.S. and across the world Friday. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a rare watch on Thursday night, warning that the solar flare effects would be worst Friday night but could last all weekend.

“G4 conditions were observed by [Space Weather Prediction Center] around 12:37 p.m. EDT today and significant to severe geomagnetic storming is likely to continue,” the agency posted Friday.

The storm could produce northern lights as far south in the U.S. as Alabama and Northern California, according to NOAA. But it was hard to predict and experts stressed it would not be the dramatic curtains of color normally associated with the northern lights, but more like splashes of greenish hues.

Friday night into Saturday, the FOX Weather Forecast Center said skies looked clear for most of the northern U.S. with less than 10% cloud cover expected from the Midwest to the Northwest. However, clouds would be around in the Northeast.

Photos of northern lights across US, world

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, glow on the horizon at Another Place by Anthony Gormley, Crosby Beach, Liverpool , Merseyside. (Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Images via Getty Images)

G4 solar storm watch

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded a geomagnetic solar storm watch from a Level 3 (“moderate”) to a Level 4 (“severe”) watch after several solar flares combined.

RELATED: Solar flare could disrupt communications, produce northern lights

According to NOAA, the explosive acceleration of charged and superheated plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME, speeds through space and expands.

Check back for more updates. The Associated Press contributed.

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