Aurora on April 2nd and 3rd Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – SWPC has upgraded the storm watch posted yesterday from G1 to G2 and extended the watch an additional 24 hours. NLN will be live blogging this storm and sharing updates as they are available – check back often over the next 36 hours for updates.

Tim Peake on the International Space Station:


Update 3:00 AM UTC 4/3/2016 (11:00pm EST -4/2/2016)

Some lights over Rovaniemi, Finland from All About Lapland:

In Tasmania, there was a hint of the Southern Lights on the horizon:

Update 10:00 PM UTC 4/3/2016 (6:00pm EST)

This will be the last post for this period of geomagnetic activity, unless the storm surprises and kicks back up again. In the end this storm was limited to a single period where KP reached the G2 threshold and a second period where it peaked at G1 over a total of nine hours. This isn’t far off from what we originally predicted. The storm arrived about 12 hours later than the preditions. The peak wind speeds meaured was 548km/s, almost exactly as forecast, but the 5 minute average measured speed never passed 520km/s.

There were some people who caught a glimpse of the Aurora, thank you for sharing!

This storm may be wrapping up. Solar wind speeds have already started decreases and are now below 500km/s. KP has also been slowing decreasing after about 4 hours of G1 storming from 18:00 to 22:00 UTC. Once the official data from Boulder is available, we should get confirmation that there was a brief period of G2 storming as well.

The timing and clouds mean not many people got to see aurora during this storm. Astronaughts on the International Space Station should have seen some of the show, and there’s a chance that hunters in New Zealand and possible around the great lakes may have seen some of the show. Please share your pictures with us on Twitter and follow NLN (@northLightAlert) too if you aren’t already.

Update 8:45pm UTC 4/2/2016 (5:45pm EST)

Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far. There has been a brief period where the wing KP was predicting G2 storming (at 6.33 – the peak in the chart below). This storm is coming in just about as expected. It was a little late, which indicates that the solar wind was a little slower than the models, and with the wind a little slower the max KP is a little lower. But the slower wind speed also means the storm could last a little longer than the original forecast. If Bz stays negative there could be an extended period of G1 activity giving North America a show tonight.

Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far tonight
Boulder is reporting one period of G1 storming so far tonight
NLN's inforgraphic showing wing KP and Ovation aurora oval from tonight
NLN’s inforgraphic showing wing KP and Ovation aurora oval from tonight

Most of the normal aurora hot spots in Europe were clouded in tonight, so there weren’t many northern lights reports. The skies look much clearer over North America tonight. If the storm continues for several more hours (very possible), American and Canadian aurora hunter should be rewarded.

Clear Skies perdicted across most of North America this evening
Clear Skies perdicted across most of North America this evening

Update 4:00pm UTC 4/2/2016 (1:00pm EST)

The solarstorm is now arriving. Solar wind speeds have increased to above 450 km/s. This storm appears to be arriving with the Bz oriented South. This is great news for aurora hunters. If Bz stays negative (south) over the next several hours, KP shold increase into the G1 and Possbly G2 range.

Data (visualizations from spaceweatherlive) showing solarstorm arriving.
Data (visualizations from spaceweatherlive) showing solarstorm arriving.

Update 11:00am UTC 4/2/2016 (7:00am EST)

The expected solar wind has not arrived at Earth yet. In the last hour there have been hints that it may be about to be detected. The Solar Wind Density has increased and is currently registering above 10 parts per cubic centimeter after increasing from the ambient 1-4 p/cm3. This is sometimes a short-term leading indicator that anticipates the increase in wind speed. It is often the case that space weather predictions miss by +/-6 hours, so this is not unexpected.

Solar wind  density has increased to above 7 p/cm3 in the last half hour
Solar wind density has increased to above 7 p/cm3 in the last half hour

The delay in the arrival of the expected activity hints that it may be weaker than initially anticipated, but also that it may last longer than initially anticipated. Aurora hunters are now in wait-and-see mode for this storm.

Update 4:00am UTC 4/2/2016 (Midnight EST)

SWPC has upgraded the expected storm from G1 to G2, they are now expecting a period of Moderate storming in the second 3 hour block after the storm arrives. The watch period has also been extended into April 3rd. Here’s the snapshot of the auroracast forecast for today and tomorrow.

AuroraCast shows G2 storming on 4/2 and G1 storming on 4/3
AuroraCast shows G2 storming on 4/2 and G1 storming on 4/3

Solar wind is still at ambient levels at between 330 and 350 km/s. It should pick up over the next several hours.

Happy Hunting!