Category Archives: Storm Live Blog

Aurora May 16 through May 20 Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – There is an extended period of active aurora predicted for the third week of May 2016. NLN is going into live-blog mode to provide updates as the storm unfolds. Please check this page often.

Some helpful links to us to watch the storms unfold:

  • Live KP: use this to see the KP over the next 45 or so minutes to time your trip outside
  • AuroraCast: NLN’s visualization of the current SWPC 3-day forecast
  • DSCOVR Solar Wind: Raw data that feeds the live KP model – be super science and predict earlier than the models!

NLN Live Blog Update – Sat May 20, 11:30 UTC (03:30 EST)

Thanks for following along the live blog! There may be some residual activity as solar wind is still high, but the storm appears to be over. Here’s a nice timelapse from @isaac_diener of last night’s activity.

NLN Live Blog Update – Sat May 20, 03:15 UTC (23:15 EST)

As anticipated, the third part of this storm is producing the most activity. But it hasn’t been much so far with geomagnetic activity just exceeding the KP=4 level. Solar winds are looking good, so there is still a chance for G1 storming in the next 3-5 hours.

Did you notice the short term KP forecast is behind? Occasionally the source data, which comes from a neural network run by the space weather prediction center goes offline. When it does, predictions come back from the model as -1. Clearly, the level of activity is not negative!

Wing KP model output  is offline - returning an estimated KP of -1
Wing KP model output is offline – returning an estimated KP of -1

When this happens, the best bet is to use the ovation aurora model – which you can find on our page title “Short Term Prediction Down? Use This!

Ovation model at the time of this update shows some activity.
Ovation model at the time of this update shows some activity.

NLN Live Blog Update – Fri May 19, 13:30 UTC (09:30 EST)

Earth is now in the coronal hole high speed wind. Wind speeds are approaching 500km/s. Over the last 45 minutes, Bz has dipped south. If this keeps up, the KP should tick back up.

Bz is now south in part three of this week's activity
Bz is now south in part three of this week’s activity

NLN Live Blog Update – Fri May 19, 01:45 UTC (21:45 EST)

With the start of 5/19 UTC, the G2 storm watch is now in effect as part three of this complex set of storms is expected to arrive. Over the last hour proton density has been steadily increasing. This is an indication that the CIR is about to arrive. It will be followed by high speed winds from the coronal hole. It should be clear in the next 3-5 hours if there will be strong aurora from this storm, of if it is another bust like the first two parts of this week’s activity. Aurora hunters world wide remain optimistic!

Proton density readings steadily rise over the last hour
Proton density readings steadily rise over the last hour

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 12:30 UTC (08:30 EST)

Overnight there was a brief period of northern lights between midnight and 1 am EST while the Bz was oriented southward. Since then, KP has been between 3 and 4. This was long enough for some aurora hunters to capture the show. Here are a couple clips from the NLN Twitter feed. Thanks for sharing!

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 04:15 UTC (00:15 EST)

Finally! Wing Kp model is calling for KP=5.00 shortly. Bz has turned south and persisted for over 2 hours, it has been hovering around -5nT for the last 30 minutes. That is strong enough to make the models predict aurora!

First predicted G1 storm period of this active period - shown on NLN's current KP real-time chart
First predicted G1 storm period of this active period – shown on NLN’s current KP real-time chart

NLN Live Blog Update – Thurs May 18, 01:00 UTC (21:00 EST)

Another quiet day. The maximum measured KP was 2.67. It appears the expected CME went to the South of Earth and we won’t be seeing any impact from it. SWPC updated the watches. They have cancelled the G2 watch for the 17th and downgraded the watch on the 18th to a G1 watch. They did maintain the G2 watch for the 19th and extend a new G1 watch to the 20th.

The third part of the expected storm should start to impact Earth late on the 18th (UTC) as Earth crosses a solar sector boundary and a co-rotating interactive boundary in advance of the wind from the next coronal hole. Then activity should pick up on the 19th as Earth enters the high speed wind from the coronal hole. This is illustrated in the WSA-Enlil (How to read Enlil ) below. Earth is the green filled circle on each of the graphs. At the top, see that density is high as Earth is in the SSBC, on the lower portion, see that wind speeds are picking up as Earth enters the wind stream.

Annotated Frame from WSA_Enlil model shows coronal holes, high speed wind arriving and high density from SSBC
Annotated Frame from WSA_Enlil model shows coronal holes, high speed wind arriving and high density from SSBC

It’s worth checking out the fully animated WSA-Enlil output at SWPC

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed May 17, 11:00 UTC (07:00 EST)

Solar wind speeds have been slowly decreasing overnight as the influence from the first coronal hole wanes. Winds speeds have dropped to around 500km/s. Bz has been oriented southward (negative) for over 2 hours now. The combination what is responsible for pushing short-term Kp predictions to between 3 and 4. Even with the strength of the field low, extended periods of Bz like this can lead to aurora. We aren’t expecting any amazing jumps in Kp until other solar wind parameters become more favorable.

The next feature that may become evident in this storm is the arrival or glancing blow from the CME that launched late on May 13. The material from the CME is slow moving and mostly to the south of Earth. SWPC models are indicating some of the material may have been on the Earth-Sun plane. Here is a snapshot of the CME in lasco C2 and C3 imagery. It is faint, but the CME can be seen as a “cloud” emanating from the bottom right of the Sun at starting around the 21:00 timestamp in C2 (orange/red) and the 22:30 timestamp in C3 (blue)

CME launches late on 5/13 as shown in LASCO C2 imagery from SOHO
CME launches late on 5/13 as shown in LASCO C2 imagery from SOHO
The same CME, but imaged in C3 - zoomed out a little.
The same CME, but imaged in C3 – zoomed out a little.

NLN Live Blog Update – Wed May 17, 03:45 UTC (11:45 EST)

As of midnight, a G2 storm watch is now in effect. SWPC extended the watch an additional 24 hours through May 19. The 19th currently looks like it will be the most active day this week. G1 and G2 storming is predicted for all but one 3-hour period during the that day. Here is the NLN AuroraCast showing the predicted KP for each 3-hour time period over the next three days.

3-day AuroraCast shows very active geomagnetic activity the next three days - particularly on May 19
3-day AuroraCast shows very active geomagnetic activity the next three days – particularly on May 19

For the first day of this event, measured KP peaked at 3.00. Storm levels did not reach the G1 threshold.

NLN Live Blog Update – Tue May 16, 21:00 UTC (17:00 EST)

Despite a G1 storm watch posted for today, it doesn’t appear KP levels will reach 4.67 today. Solar wind speed have increased as a result of the coronal hole high speed stream and have been above 500km/s for most of the day. Solar winds reached a peak speed of 678km/s early in the UTC day, but have since declined. It is not unusual that a predicted G1 storm does not live up to expectations, there is plenty of activity predicted for the next 2 days and probably more. Stay tuned.

Aurora Live Blog – October 2016 G2 Storm

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Northern Lights Now – There is a 72 hour G2 storm watch in effect from October 24 through October 27, NLN will be live blogging the storm here. Please check back often

Update #10: 0300 UTC 10/29/2016 (midnight EST 10/29/2016)

Earth has been under the influence of that large coronal hole for over 4 days. The last several days have been less exciting than the first day and a half, but over the last 3 hours, activity has picked back up. G1 storming conditions have started up again. Here are the current recorded KP values from Boulder:

On the tail end of this storm, another period of G1 storming is recorded
On the tail end of this storm, another period of G1 storming is recorded

The storming is showing up vibrantly on the Tromso all-sky cam. It’s clear there, the moon is nearly new, and the Aurora is filling the sky!

Exciting full sky of aurora from the Tromso all-sky web cam
Exciting full sky of aurora from the Tromso all-sky web cam

It’s possible this storming could continue several hours. Keep an eye on the KP.

Update #9: 2300 UTC 10/26/2016 (7:00pm EST 10/26/2016)

As evening sets in across the East Coast, the KP drops. KP=4 in the short term forecast. It could go back up any time.

Update #8: 1700 UTC 10/26/2016 (1:00pm EST 10/26/2016)

An two hour period of Bz south from about 14:45 to 16:45UTC pushed storming levels back to G2 (KP=5.67 and above) since the last update. Conditions continue to be favorable for northern lights and will likely to be for the next 12-24 hours at least. Here’s a snapshot of the current recorded KP from boulder, where the most recent period of G2 is visible.

Recorded KP conditions from Boulder as of mid afternoon UTC on October 26
Recorded KP conditions from Boulder as of mid afternoon UTC on October 26

If you are planning on going out tonight, you might want to check out NLN’s handy Last Minute Aurora Viewing Preparation Guide, there are some great tips for what to do before you go out and while you are out. Please bundle up! It’s cold across much of the northern viewing spots and you may be standing still for a long time.

Update #7: 1400 UTC 10/26/2016 (10:00am EST 10/26/2016)

Solar wind speeds have now been elevated for over 24 hours. The big winners from last night’s aurora hunt seem to have been in Europe with some terrific images coming from Denmark.

Here are two time lapse videos from overnight

Update #6: 0345 UTC 10/26/2016 (11:45pm EST 10/25/2016)

Last update for tonight. Solar wind is has exceeded 800 km/s and is in the “very high” range. It does appear that wingKP continues to over estimate the actual KP. There is still enough activity that high latitude clear locations should get a show. Keep an eye on the Bz, if it goes back south for another extended period, there could be a new substorm at any moment.

Solar wind speed has exceeded 800 k/s in the last hour
Solar wind speed has exceeded 800 k/s in the last hour

Seven games is a long series. There is plenty of time left for a comeback.

Update #5: 0200 UTC 10/26/2016 (10:00pm EST 10/25/2016)

Let’s go Cubs! It’s the 6th inning and the Indians are leading 3-0.

The solar storm is continuing. Bz has been variable for most of 10/25 UTC, but there were some periods where there were extended periods with negative Bz. In the spirit of baseball, here’s a random statistic: Of 1440 total minutes in the day, Bz was only negative for 458 of them.

Chicago cubs are in the world series tonight
Chicago cubs are in the world series tonight

Update #4: 2130 UTC 10/25/2016 (5:30pm EST 10/25/2016)

It is now dark in Europe and reports of Northern Lights are rolling in. WingKP predictions have been consistently in the 5.67-7.67 range for the last several hours. It’s important to note that when the wind speed is high and there is a particularly strong ground reading (like the G3 mentioned in the last update) that the wingKP model can overestimate. Even with the overestimate, there is still very strong active storming ongoing now.

About an hour ago, Bz shifted to into a new and solidly southward orientation. It is evident in the graph below starting at about 20:45 UTC. This should give a very nice substorm to Aurora hunters out under the lights for the 45-70 minutes (click the image for full screen).

A consistent period of Bz South should reward aurora hunters over the next hour or so
A consistent period of Bz South should reward aurora hunters over the next hour or so

Here are some Photos from Twitter. Thanks for sharing!

From New Zealand:

Update #3: 1630 UTC 10/25/2016 (12:30pm EST 10/25/2016)

Exciting times! SWPC at Boulder reported a period of G3 storming over the last three hours. Current KP predictions are showing consistently G1-G2 storming. Solar wind conditions are favorable to aurora hunters. Make sure your camera batteries are charged, and check out your cloud cover forecast.

SQPC Boulder reported KP activity levels show G3 storming
SQPC Boulder reported KP activity levels show G3 storming
Strong KP Predicted over the next hour
Strong KP Predicted over the next hour

Update #2: 1300 UTC 10/25/2016 (9:00am EST 10/25/2016)

Solar wind speed has increased to over 600 km/s, and there have been periods of Bz south overnight. The first wave of G1 storming of this storm is predicted in the next 50 minutes or so, with an expected KP of 5.33. There were a couple Twitter reports of Aurora overnight, here’s one from Corinne in Northern Wisconsin

Would you like your photo shared in this live blog? Share it on Twitter and be sure to tag @NorthLightAlert

Update #1: 0300 UTC 10/25/2016 (11:00pm EST 10/24/2016)

One full day into the watch period and the high solar winds are running a little late compared to the forecast. Late on 10/24, winds started to increase to 450 km/s. Over the next 6-8 hours they could increase to as much as 700 km/s. There haven’t been any KP=5 active periods yet, but there has been enough activity for some sporatic reports of aurora in Finland and Iceland to trickle in. Stay tuned, there is likely more to come. Take a moment to appreciate how large this coronal hole has become, in the AIA 211 image in encompasses most of the visible solar disk

Very large coronal hole will bring days of active aurora conditions
Very large coronal hole will bring days of active aurora conditions

Late September 2016 Aurora Live Blog

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Northern Lights Now – A large coronal hole pointed towards earth means there may be many as 72 hours of G2 storming between September 28 and September 30. It is likely that during that time KP values will occasionally be above 5.67 and the aurora borealis will treat Aurora hunters to a show. Refresh this page often as we’ll be posting live updates as this storm impacts Earth.

Update #11: 72:00 hours in, 0000 UTC 9/31/2016 (8:00pm EST 9/30/2016)

The interplanetary shock from the previous update did not usher in a significantly different solar wind environment. This storm has been exhausting and frustrating for Aurora hunters around the world. It’s tempting to call the storm over – the G2 watch is now expired – however, a quick peak at the SDO AIA 211 image of the Sun from yesterday indicates there may be one more round of enhanced solar wind on it’s way. Notice that there is a final “leg” of the coronal hole pointed towards Earth in the 9:00am UTC image form 9/29 in the Earth strike zone. It’s possible this will bring enhanced solar wind speeds in the second half of today. Starting in about 12 hours and lasting for between 12 and 24 additional hours will be the final chances for this storm to put on a real show. It’s frustrating, but it’s storms like this that make the storms where there is a good show that much more awesome!

One final leg of this large coronal hole
One final leg of this large coronal hole

The storm hasn’t been a total bust. Check out this Timelapse from Adam Hill Studios in the North West Territory:

Update #10: 69:15 hours in, 2115 UTC 9/30/2016 (5:15pm EST 9/30/2016)

It’s been quiet. The solar wind has been blowing past Earth consistently and in a non-aurora producing orientation. Until about 20 minutes ago. DSCOVR data reflected an interplanetary shock arriving, it can be seen as a sudden shift in solar wind parameters. Bz shifted quickly north, wind speed decreased and proton density dropped. Sometime this indicates a shift in the space weather environment. In this case, after a period of about 10 minutes, the Bz shifted back to the south. If it stays this way, G1 storming could pick back up. In fact, wingKP models are responding to this change and predicting a return to G1 conditions in the next 45 minutes. Here’s a snapshot of the data during the shock arrival:

Clear shift in solar wind data indicates an interplanetary shock arriving
Clear shift in solar wind data indicates an interplanetary shock arriving

Update #9: 52:30 hours in, 0430 UTC 9/30/2016 (12:30am EST 9/30/2016)

There has now been 24 hours of continuous solar wind stronger than 650 km/s. Solar wind hit a peak earlier today of over 800 km/s, which is solidly in the “very strong” range. The charged particles that are carried in the solar wind exert a force on the Earth’s magnetosphere. The force is cumulative and it acts like slowly continuing to push harder on a spring. The more “compressed” the magnetosphere is, the more likely it is to react to any periods of high proton density, strong Bt, or negative Bz. This is why magnetometers are measuring KP values in the G1 range despite only brief periods of south oriented Bz that have been occurring today.

The short story is that Earth is primed to put on an amazing aurora display if the solar wind becomes even slightly favorable for aurora. When/if it happens, there will be between 30-60 minutes of warning.

Update #8: 47:00 hours in, 2300 UTC 9/29/2016 (07:00pm EST 9/29/2016)

Wrapping up the second full day of G2 storm watch, and the third day of active storming. Today there have been 4 periods of G1 storming recorded. There should be more G1-G2 storming over the next 24 hours with the possibility for some G3 if the Bz cooperates (which it hasn’t been doing much of so far this storm.

Update #7: 36:30 hours in, 1230 UTC 9/29/2016 (08:30am EST 9/29/2016)

Since the last update, there has been nearly consistent G1 storming. Pictures of aurora and proton acrs started rolling in on Twitter. Take a look at the 6 hours chart from NLN’s current KP page showing consistently KP5+

Consistenly KP5+ over the last 5-6 hours
Consistenly KP5+ over the last 5-6 hours

These two twitter post show proton arcs that happened overnight for this storm, one in Montana, the other was visible in the North Caithness coast

Update #6: 29:00 hours in, 0500 UTC 9/29/2016 (01:00am EST 9/29/2016)

Just a quick update. The negative Bz did infact lead to a small substorm. KP is back to G1 levels. Check out that same webcam now, it is showing much more green:

More northern lights visible on Sebec Lake webcam
More northern lights visible on Sebec Lake webcam

Update #6: 28:15 hours in, 0415 UTC 9/29/2016 (12:15am EST 9/29/2016)

On of the great things about the internet is that people hook up webcams and share them with the world. Check out www.sebeclake.net where you can watch aurora live when it’s cloudy where you are. Right now, it’s clear in Eastern Main and the webcam is showing some faint green on the horizon:

Sebec Lake webcam shows some aurora on the horizon
Sebec Lake webcam shows some aurora on the horizon

On that note, after it has been quiet for the last 3-4 hours, the Bz has been oriented negative for over 15 minutes now at a strength of more than -5Bz. This means there could be a small substorm coming in the next 30-60 minutes. Watch that KP!

Update #5: 26:00 hours in, 0200 UTC 9/29/2016 (10:00pm EST 9/28/2016)

About one third of the way through the predicted duration of the late September active period and so far the storm is mostly as expected. There have been 2 periods of G2 storming recorded so far and 7 periods of G1. Solar wind has continued to stay in the range of 600-725km/s.

Two G2 periods and Seven G1 periods over the last 48 hours.
Two G2 periods and Seven G1 periods over the last 48 hours.

Those strong KP readings are all the more impressive because Bz has been variable, rarely staying negative for more than about an hour. That indicates the long duration of strong solare wind as primed the magnetosphere for a big show if there is a period of negative Bz that lasts a couple hours. Here is the 24 hour view of solar wind data, note that Bz is continuously shifting between negative (south) and positive (south) orientation (click to see full size image):

24 hour solar wind data graph from SWPC shows Bz's orientation has been variable
24 hour solar wind data graph from SWPC shows Bz’s orientation has been variable

We have not seen a lot of great pictures from this storm so far. Lots of the traditional Aurora hot spots are clouded in. Hopefully it clears out for some of you over the next 48 hours. Please share your pictures with as at @northLightAlert on Twitter!

Update #4: 20:45 hours in, 2045 UTC 9/28/2016 (5:45pm EST 9/28/2016)

G2 storming is ongoing now!

G2 storming shortly
G2 storming shortly

Update #3: 11:00 hours in, 1100 UTC 9/28/2016 (7:00am EST 9/28/2016)

Activity has decreased a bit over the last 9 hours. One additional period of G1 storming was recorded since the last update, current KP estimates are between 3 and 4 which is not enough for most of our readers to have a chance of seeing a show.

In the lull, let’s take a quick look at NLN’s dynamic inforgraphic of DSCOVR solar wind data. The chart below shows the strength and duration of the wind. Generally, more taller bars mean a better chance of a higher KP. The height of bars indicate how long the solar wind has been favorably exceeded the threshold along the bottom. For example, below: wind speed has been above 400km/s for over 48 hours, above 500km/s for over 18 hours, and above 600 km/s for an hour. One of the most important factors for aurora is Bz, the value on the right of the chart, when it is negative and has been for more than an hour or two, that is some of the best time to go out on the hunt. The chart updates automatically – no need to refresh that page!

Current Snapshot of NLN's dynamic DSCOVR solar wind infographic
Current Snapshot of NLN’s dynamic DSCOVR solar wind infographic

Update #2: 3.5 hours in, 0330 UTC 9/28/2016 (11:30pm EST 9/27/2016)

The official G2 watch period has started. There has been G1 and G2 activity consistently over the previous 24 hours, even before the offical watch period begins. This has happened without Bz making a sustained southward shift. Solar wind exceeded 700km/s for about an hour just after midnight GMT. Any sustained period of south oriented Bz could make for a very strong aurora display.

In the 0030 SWPC aurora forecast discussion, there are a pair of notes that it is possible that storming could reach G3 levels over the next three days. This would mean KP values of 6.67 and above!

SWPC discussion indicates the possibility of G3 storming on Days 2 and 3
SWPC discussion indicates the possibility of G3 storming on Days 2 and 3

Update #2: t-2 hours, 2200 UTC (6:00pm EST) 9/27/2016

The storm is rolling! G2 storming levels we reached in the 6:00pm UTC hour. Solar wind speeds are now over 650km/s and there have been periods of south oriented Bz. Here’s the reported 3-hour KP values from SWPC:

First Period of G2 storming reached in the 6pm UTC reporting period
First Period of G2 storming reached in the 6pm UTC reporting period

Aurora reports are already streaming in! Check out these northern lights that happened just after sunset in Iceland:

Update #1: t-20 hours, 0400 UTC (midnight EST) 9/27/2016

SWPC increases duration of storm watch to 72 hours. Here are the updated timings of this G2 storming. It is important to note that these specific timings are less meaningful in a long duration event like this as it’s likely that the exact timing of KP spikes will depend on when substorms carried by the solar wind arrive at Earth.

AuroraCast for days 2 and 3 (Sept 28 and 29)
AuroraCast for days 2 and 3 (Sept 28 and 29)

SWPC Notifications timeline shows three days of potential G2 storming
SWPC Notifications timeline shows three days of potential G2 storming