Northern Lights Now – The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, CO has issued a G1 Geomagnetic storm watch for April 2nd, 2016 indicating that there could be isolated periods of KP=5 aurora. This predicted activity is the result of a negative polarity coronal hole that was pointed towards Earth yesterday. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) is expected to be disturbed, and the higher speed winds from the coronal hole will likely be enough to disturb Earth’s magnetic fields.
The coronal hole responsible for the predicted activity produced a period of G3 storming on the previous rotation, but has changed structure and looks like it is unlikely that it will be as strong. Data from STEREO-A showed that this coronal hole still has a good chance of producing negative Bz at Earth as the high speed wind arrives. While the structure of the coronal hole has changed, there is still a possibility it could pack a punch. NLN would not be surprised if there is a brief period of G2 activity during the storming.
In addition, the coronal hole is located adjacent to Active Region 2526. While that region has been quiet, it still has the possibility of flaring. If it does flare, and the flare releases a CME, it will the impact at Earth will be enhanced by the coronal hole. The period where a flare from this region could erupt and impact Earth is only about 24 hours from now. As it has been quiet, and it lost magnetic complexity over the last 24 hours, This scenario remains a remote possibility. Keep an eye on this region.
The second coronal hole that is to the North and East of the initial CH has grown and become more defined over the past 24 hours. This CH could impact Earth late on the 3rd and on the 4th. If it continues to grow or there is activity on it’s permeter, it is possible that the G1 watch could be extended additional days.
As this storm develops and space weather forecasters know more NLN will keep the 3-day auroraCast updated.
Northern Lights Now – SWPC has posted a G1 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday, March 6, 2016. This means global Kp could reach five prompting aurora to be visible at upper mid-latitudes. The expected activity is a result of the high speed solar wind from a coronal hole that was pointed toward Earth on March 2nd. As the high speed solar wind arrives, the charged particles it carries bombard and disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere leading to northern lights. Here’s an image of the coronal hole that as it was pointed towards Earth late on March 2nd:
As of Friday evening, SWPC is predicting the peak period of activity to arrive between 3:00AM and 6:00AM GMT on Sunday (10:00pm Saturday night to 1:00AM Sunday morning EST). NLN expects the wind speeds to start increasing around midnight GMT. The NLN AuroraCast shows the expected time periods of activity over the next three days:
Northern Lights Now – A second G1 geomagnetic storm watch for the week is posted for Wednesday offering the possibility of KP=5 or more. The increase in aurora borealis activity is expected as the high speed solar wind arrives from the northern extension of a southern pole coronal hole. Wind speed from the coronal hole approached 600km/s as it passed the STEREO-Ahead satellite, and it appears to have extended slightly northwards since the pass. It is possible wind speeds could reach 660 km/s at Earth by Wednesday. Here’s an image of the coronal hole when it was directed towards Earth:
The current forecast from SWPC calls for a 6 hour period of potential KP=5+ starting around 3:00PM GMT. Here is NLN’s AuroraCast inforgraphic of the expected Max KP’s
As always – these watches have a +/- of about 6 hours, and about a 50% accuracy, so hope for the best and plan for the worst.