The Northern Lights (Auroras) Will Be Visible Very Far South Tonight! Let's Talk About Our Area Specifically...
There is a very large sunspot name AR1944 on the sun that released a large solar flare just 2 days ago.
When that solar flare occurred it created what is called a called a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME. These CMEs eject large amounts of blazing hot debris from the sun into space. When these are directed at Earth, we can see very active Auroras (Northern Lights) and even some communication disruptions. This CME was directed right at earth and struck the earth at around 3 pm EST. NASA actually has a cool video of when it occurred on the sun.
NOAA is predicting a G3 level geomagnetic storm and I want to describe what that means and how far south the Auroras (Northern Lights) will be visibile.
What Is A G3 Level Geomagnetic Storm?
NOAA and the Space Weather Prediction Center uses a scale to describe the strength and frequency of geomagnetic storms. These geomagnetic storms occur when the charged particles from the sun crash into the magnetic field of the earth after these large "CMEs" occur. NOAA is classifying tonight's geomagnetic storm as a G3. G3 class geomagnetic storms occur about 130 times every 11 years and they are considered strong. Here are some of the possible impacts.
- Power systems: voltage corrections may be required, false alarms triggered on some protection devices.
- Spacecraft operations: surface charging may occur on satellite components, drag may increase on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and corrections may be needed for orientation problems.
Other systems: intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems may occur, HF radio may be intermittent, and aurora has been seen as low as Illinois and Oregon (typically 50° geomagnetic lat.).
Now that you know the impacts, let's see who could get a rare glimpse of the Auroras (Northern Lights)!
Viewing The Auroras (Northern Lights) Tonight
NOAA produces a map called an auroral oval that shows you the areas that could see the Auroras tonight. What you will see is that they are predicting that the Auroras will be visible as far south as the Ohio river including nearly all of southern Indiana! While the chances are not great, they are still there.
This means if the weather cooperates, that you do have a chance in southern Indiana to see the Auroras (Northern Lights) if you are in a very dark area. The question then moves to the weather.
Will There Be Any Clearing Tonight?
As you know, we saw a rain-snow mix in our area today. That system is one that will linger through Friday night and Saturday morning. As you would expect, that does mean cloud cover is going to be a major issue tonight. AdvanceTrak shows no chance whatsoever of any clearing.
The bottom line... the clouds will be too thick in our region to have any shot. I really think you have to head to the northeast US or westard toward Iowa / Minnesota to have the best chance to see the Auroras (Northern Lights) tonight. Honestly, what bad luck! :(
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