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.
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:
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!