G1 Storm Watch Feb 8, 2014

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The NOAA SWPC has posted a G1 Geomagnetic storm watch for February 8, 2014. The watch is from midnight to midnight UTC, or 7:00PM Friday night to 7:00PM Saturday night EST.

A G1 watch means SWPC models are indicating there is a possibility of Kp values above 5. There are two events that are responsible for the increased Kp values:

1) There is a coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS) currently directed at earth. You can see the coronal hole in the SDO/AIA images from two days ago. The coronal hole is the dark area at roughly the meridian.

Coronal Hole
Coronal hole visible at the meridian on 2/5/2014 in SCO/AIA 211 imagery

Charged particles are released from coronal holes. When the hole is positioned at the central meridian (towards Earth), those particles arrive at earth between 2 and 3 days later. They appear as an enhancement in the solar wind, a negative Bz and potentially as elevated Kp values.

2) Of all those Solar flares that originated from solar regions 1967 and 1968 over ther last two weeks, one had a CME with a partial earth-directed component. You can see these regions as the brighter areas in the image above just to the right of the coronal hole – 1967 to the South, 1968 to the North. As Earth is hit with the glancing blow from the CME, that will also elevate the Kp values.

As a bonus, at least for those in much of the northern United States, skies will be generally clear. In this image of the cloud cover forecast for 1:00am EST, darker blue means clearer skies:

Cloud cover 1:00AM EST
Cloudcover models show clear skies for much of the Northern US

As always, remember that these models frequently over-estimate actual Kp, so don’t be surprised if we get nothing. While there is a watch, it is a good time to be monitoring the Kp. You can monitor the current and near-term predicted Kp values on Northern Lights Now!

Happy Hunting

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