Category Archives: Storm Live Blog

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!

Live Storm Updates – G2 Aurora Now

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Northern Lights Now – This post contains live updates to the storm predicted in Coronal Hole Prompts G1 Aurora Watch for Sat/Sun March 3rd and 4th.

March 7, 2016 03:45UTC (10:45 PM EST)

Tonight’s Aurora show has ended for most viewers. There may still be some good photos come in from areas that only need KP=4, but for the mostpart it’s time to good to bed for the sleep deprived intrepid aurora hunters. By all accounts it has been a terrific night. The official prediction was for a single 3-hour period of KP=5, but there were 12 hours with the KP in the G1 zone with a peak period of G3 activity:

Boulder KP readings show 12 hours of G1, G2, and G3 activity
Boulder KP readings show 12 hours of of G1, G2, and G3 activity

This evening Eastern North America joined in the action just as the storm was abating – hunters in Prince Edward Island, Maine and New Hampshire all reported success:

PEI from aurora hunter John Morris:

Maine from our friend Rob Wright:

New Hampshire from the Mount Washington Observatory atop the White Mountains:

March 7, 2016 00:30UTC (7:30 PM EST)

The storm has started to abated just a little. But it has been great. We haven’t seen any aurora posted by hunters in North America yet, but we expect at least some from Maine and PEI soon. Bz has been north over the last 20 minutes. If it stays that way, the show will be over in about 45 minutes. If it shifts back to the south, even parts of the midwest could have an opportunity for aurora tonight.

March 6, 2016 19:30UTC (5:30 PM EST)

This is an absolutely amazing storm! Bz continues to be south as much as 10nT, Bt has been between 10nT and 20nT for hours, and there are clear skies in much of the UK and Ireland. One indicator of the strength of this is storm is all the reports of Red hues to the aurora.

Check out these wonderful aurora tweets:

March 6, 2016 17:00UTC (3:00 PM EST)

This storm is continuing to get stronger. KP is predicted to be 6.67 in 45 minutes. Aurora reports are streaming in on Twitter from

Ireland:

Northumberland :

and Netherlands:

March 6, 2016 16:00UTC (2:00 PM EST)

As expected, the Wing KP model was under-estimating the strength of this storm. The Boulder Kp which is based on ground measurments over the last three hours was just updated to 5.67 indicating G2 storming. There is nothing in the data to suggest this won’t be a very good storm for Europe and possibly Iceland and the northeastern US once it gets dark. Here’s a snapshot of the current Ovation model output:

Ovation shows the extent and strength of Aurora continuing to increase
Ovation shows the extent and strength of Aurora continuing to increase

March 6, 2016 13:00UTC (11:00 PM EST)

Solar wind data at ACE is indicating that the high speed solar wind from the coronal hole is arriving. The Bz component of the magnetic field is oriented south and has been for over an hour and a half. Wing KP (which the graph to the right and in the post below) is based on is indicating a predicted KP of 4.00. This likely an underestimate of the actual KP. Once the Boulder ground-based KP readings come in, the wing KP model will respond with higher readings. This is looking like it could be a good storm!

Wing KP is showing expected KP of 4.0 soon
Wing KP is showing expected KP of 4.0 soon

Valentine’s Day 2016 Aurora – Live Updates

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Northern Lights Now – There’s an active geomagnetic storm watch for Valentine’s day 2016. NLN will be posting live leading up to the storm and as it happens here, please come back often!

Update: 02:15UTC Feb 16 (9:15pm EST)

Amazing – More than 24 hours after the predicted arrival of the Feb 11 CME, space weather activity has increased. Bz just dived to -6, while Bt has been above 20 and wind speed is increasing. We may get KP=5 yet! KP is currently t 4.33, and it could easily climb over the next hour.

This tweet was just posted by Eva Olsen – @MissEvaOlsen

The interesting question presented by this data: Is this the arrival of the predicted CME, or is this a disturbance traveling along a slightly elevated wind stream?

Update: 17:30UTC Feb 15 (12:30pm EST)

We’re calling it. This storm is a miss. There is no indication that is approaching.

Space weather data shows no tell-tale indication of a solar storm passage
Space weather data shows no tell-tale indication of a solar storm passage

In the image above, if you expand it and look closely, you could almost make a compelling argument that the CME arrived between 5 and 7am GMT (during our last update) as the density is consistently above 10 p/cm3.

Time to look forward to the next potential solar storm. Luckily for aurora hunters, the wait won’t be long. On Wednesday the high speed stream from the northern extension of a southern pole coronal hole should arrive at Earth and bring with it a chance for activity. Stay tuned for a post about that.

High speed winds from coronal hole may impact Earth on 2/17
High speed winds from coronal hole may impact Earth on 2/17

Update: 12:30UTC Feb 15 (7:30am EST)

The CME arrival is now officialy late. It is either moving very slowly or it missed Earth. SWPC has updated their forecast and is now calling for the arrival about 6 hours from now, here’s the updated NLN 3-day AuroraCast showing the updated forecast from SWPC:

Updated 3-day auroraCast from NLN and SWPC shows today's storm arriving at 1:00pm EST
Updated 3-day auroraCast from NLN and SWPC shows today’s storm arriving at 1:00pm EST

This means we’re still in wait-and-see mode. Though every hour that passes without a sure sign of the arrival means it’s more likely this was a dud.

Note in the image above a new period of G1 storming is predicted on day three. This is due to the coronal hole that was pointed towards Earth yesterday. There is a new watch posted for this period. NLN will make a new post about that watch soon.

Update: 06:00UTC Feb 15 (1:00am EST)

Over the last half hour there has been a marked increase in proton density. Readings have sustained above 10 p/cm3 with occasional spikes above 18. Earlier these reading were between 5 and 8 with occasional brief spikes. This is an indication that the CME is arriving. In addition to the proton density, Bt measurements have shown a couple abrupt changes in the last hour. Both of these indications say that the CME shock could arrive in the next hour or two, with the impact at Earth about an hour later. Here’s the current data from spaceweatherlive.com (where you monitor ACE satellite data in near real-time):

Live data from ACE shows increases in proton density and fluctuating Bt
Live data from ACE shows increases in proton density and fluctuating Bt

Over the next two hours, watch for more sudden jumps in Bt, proton density to increase to 20 with spikes above 30, and the solar wind speed to pick up. As the CME shock arrives, all measures should show significant changes. Once that happens, watch the Bz. If the Bz shifts into negative territory, it means the CME is oriented correctly to produce aurora on Earth. Once the Bz shifts south, about an hour later the KP will rise and aurora hunters will be rewarded for the wait tonight.

Since this storm is delayed from the predicted schedule, Europeans probably won’t get to see northern lights tonight. But people in New Zealand may get a display.

It’s time for the NLN crew to head to bed. Our next post will be in the morning.

Update: 02:30UTC Feb 15 (9:30pm EST)

Hang tight! It’s not time to give up yet. It will be at least another hour before any aurora starts, and probably more – the CME has not arrived yet. While we’re waiting, here’s some aurora from Iceland in January.

Update: 23:00UTC Feb 14 (6:00pm EST)

The period when KP=5+ is predicted has begun. However, NLN, space weather scientists and space weather enthusiasts are still in wait and see mode. The absence of a clear indication in EPAM of the approaching CME indicates either that the CME is missing Earth, or it is moving slower than expected. There have continued to be hints of activity in the data at ACE – recently spikes in the the proton density graphs indicate there are small waves of protons hitting the satellite. Similar to the data in the 20:00 update, these could be indicators that the front of the CME is being pushed by the high speed solar wind from the coronal hole. If that’s true, the CME may have sheared while traveling through space.

Spikes in Proton Density over the last two hours - may indicate the leading edges of the CME have been sheared and are arrviing
Spikes in Proton Density over the last two hours – may indicate the leading edges of the CME have been sheared and are arrviing

As time goes on with the arrival, confidence that there will be a northern lights display decreases. However, it is far too early to make a call that it won’t happen given the data available.

Update: 20:00UTC Feb 14 (3:00pm EST)

A slight, but sudden, increase in solar wind that happened at the same time as a drop in the Bt from 7nT to 5nT just now may indicate the first hints of the CME are starting to arrive. The next 3 hours will be telling

Update: 19:00UTC Feb 14 (2:00pm EST)

As of now, there is still no definitive indication that the CME is approaching. Fingers crossed.

A quick update on the cloud cover forecasts for this evening. In the US – it will be very clear and cold in the Northeast, this should make for great viewing conditions for aurora hunters who can handle the cold. Most of the mid-west will be mired in clouds, but there may be chances to spot the aurora through breaks in the clouds in Montana:

Clear skies are marked in blue in this cloud cover forecast for the US
Clear skies are marked in blue in this cloud cover forecast for the US

In Iceland – there’s a storm expected to blow through overnight. There will be a brief window where if may be clear in the early evening, but clouds are expected to roll in from the southwest to the north east. The best bet for Northern Lights in Iceland will be in the northeast, the earlier the lights start the better:

In this cloudcover forecast for iceland from the IMO, an area of clear skies moves across the island before the clouds (green) roll in
In this cloudcover forecast for iceland from the IMO, an area of clear skies moves across the island before the clouds (green) roll in

In the rest of europe – conditions look very good for most of the UK and Ireland. Scotland is predicted to have some cloud cover so it may take being flexible to find a good spot to photograph. In Norway, there could be some good views in the South, but most Scandinavian photographers will have to drive to find clear skies:

Cloud cover forecast for midnight GMT in Europe shows clear skies as green
Cloud cover forecast for midnight GMT in Europe shows clear skies as green

Update: 13:30UTC Feb 14 (8:30am EST)

So far, no signs that the CME is approaching on EPAM:

EPAM shows only a minor rise around 2/13, still awaiting CME confirmation from EPAM
EPAM shows only a minor rise around 2/13, still awaiting CME confirmation from EPAM

Typically when a CME is approaching, EPAM levels will rise slowly from the moment the eruption happens through the point that the CME shock arrives at Earth. If the EPAM isn’t rising, it can be an indication that the CME will pass by Earth without any impact. Sometimes when the CME is travelling slowly, the EPAM won’t rise until just a couple hours before the arrival. It is too early to call this storm.

Update: 00:30UTC Feb 14 (7:30pm EST 12/13)

A quick update on some of the imagery coming from the flare on 2/11. When the flare happened, there was a clear CME traveling to the north and west, but there was also a shock wave that moved eastward across the Sun showing “ripples” all the way to the coronal hole in the South West. When looking at the LASCO CME imaging, the second portion of the eruption signature shows a 3/4 partial halo. Finally, the coronal dimming is fairly extensive. All three of these together indicate there’s a good chance there is a CME headed toward Earth.

Coronal Dimming:

Coronal Dimming graphic shows extent of dimming during the C8.92 Flare
Coronal Dimming graphic shows extent of dimming during the C8.92 Flare