Tag Archives: M Class Flare

Brief G2 Aurora Storm Expected Tonight – January 3

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Update 22:00UTC January 3, 2016

It appears this #CME missed Earth and we won’t be getting an Aurora show tonight. From the beginning this was low confidence forecast. The CME’s signature was well South and West of the Earth-Sun line. If it was just a bit farther to the South or West, Earth would be untouched by the shock. It seems is what has happened. There is a slim, outside chance that it may still arrive, but with each passing hour it is less likely. Here is the output from the SWPC ENLIL model (How to read the ENLIL model) showing the predicted location of the CME:

ENLIL model shows the CME mostly South and West of Earth
ENLIL model shows the CME mostly South and West of Earth

Original Post: 03:00UTC January 3, 2016

Northern Lights Now – SWPC has issued a G2 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday, January 3rd. Space weather forecasters are expecting a brief but strong storm as the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from a long duration solar flare passes Earth. It is expected to be a glancing blow as the plasma in the CME will pass mostly to the West and South of Earth. The predicted time of arrival of this fast moving CME:

Auroracast from NLN show the SWPC forecast of G2 storming from 4am to 10AM EST
Auroracast from NLN show the SWPC forecast of G2 storming from 4am to 10AM EST

What to expect:
As the edge of the plasma cloud passes Earth, proton levels will continue to rise as displayed on the EPAM. When the shock hits, they will jump then fall. About an hour later, magnetometers on Earth will register the passage of the shock. At that time, if the Bz component is south, there may be a short period of strong aurora. This CME is predicted to be mostly South and West of Earth, and could easily be too far away from Earth to make an impact as it passes, so this is a lower-than-normal confidence forecast.

This is the flare that produced the CME:

Animated GIF of the flare that cause the CME approaching Earth
Animated GIF of the flare that cause the CME approaching Earth

If you are planning on going out hunting tonight, remember to dress warmly. When you are standing still outside at night, you should dress for weather at least 20 degree colder than what is on the thermometer. Here’s a handy last minute guide to hunting aurora.

Stay tuned next week as coronal hole #44 may prompt SWPC to issue a new geomagnetic storm watch for January 5th and/or 6th.

Coronal hole rotating into the Earth Strike zone may prompt a new geomagnetic storm watch later this week
Coronal hole rotating into the Earth Strike zone may prompt a new geomagnetic storm watch later this week

Happy Hunting.

New Years Eve Aurora Predicted – worldwide press coverage

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Northern Lights Now – The internet is abuzz with articles and blog posts about the predicted G3 aurora display for tonight and tomorrow night. It’s no surprise, a G3 storm is very strong and could mean aurora are visible as far south as Salt Lake City, UT, London, and Warsaw and as far north as Melbourne, Australia and Wellington NZ.

Here’s a running list of articles we have found talking about this ongoing storm:

Article from the Pacific Northwest in the United States:

There are several articles from this region as it is one of the few that has clear skies for the first night of the storm:

From The Seattle Times
Northern Lights may be visible in Seattle area by Jack Broom
“The best chance to see the effect may be early in the evening, before the fog sets in.”

From MyNorthwest.com
Could Seattle Catch a Glimpse of the Northern Lights” by Richard D. Oxley
“With all the city lights it would be difficult or impossible to see. You would need to get out of town,” said Terry Onsager, a physicist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center.”

From Komonews.com
Northern Lights may be visible as 2015 comes to an end by Scott Sistek
“But if the storm is late and/or the fog is early, we can cross fingers that the storm lingers long enough to bring the aurora back around on Thursday night. Wouldn’t that be a sight: New Year’s Eve auroras! ”

National US and International news:

From NBCBayArea (San Francisco):
Northern Lights: Forget Fireworks, New Year’s Solar Eruption Might Be Visible in Bay Area
“In the Bay Area, skies should be clear, giving stargazers who stay up late a shot at seeing the Aurora borealis: The time to look is early Thursday morning between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., scientists say.”

From accuweather.com Strong solar storm may bring chance to view northern lights to midwestern, northwestern US Wednesday night
“Those in the Ohio Valley and Northeast will be out of luck regardless of whether the aurora develops or not due to widespread clouds”

From the Telegraph: Solar flare hints at New Year light show
“On Monday, a powerful M1.9 class solar flare erupted from the Sun, spewing out huge amounts of charged particles. They began hitting the Earth’s atmosphere early on Wednesday morning, and the effects are expected to continue being felt into New Year’s Eve. ”

From CBC Canada:
Aurora borealis could illuminate New Year’s Eve sky across Canada
“People who want to increase their chances of seeing the lights should try to get away from light pollution, look north, and hope for clear skies.”

From The Local: Sweeden
Northern lights ‘eruption’ set to dazzle Sweden
“Although even if cloud cover does obscure the lights this week, patience will be rewarded, according to norrskensverige.com, a blog for Swedish northern lights enthusiasts.”

From the International Business Times:
New Year’s Eve Aurora Could Be Visible After Coronal Mass Ejection Hits Earth
“The CME interacts with Earth’s magnetic field, which could affect power systems, GPS and spacecraft, cause radio blackouts and create strong aurora displays. G3 geomagnetic storming could affect satellite and low-frequency radio navigation, according to the SWPC. The aurora may be visible as far south as Illinois and Oregon.”

M-Class Flare Promts G1 Aurora Storm Watch For November 11, 2015

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An coronal mass ejection (CME) that resulted from a surprise M3.95 solar flare launched a from the Sun on Monday has prompted the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) to issue a G1 geomagnetic storm watch for Veterans day and November 12th. As the CME arrives at Earth, aurora hunters may be treated to a display of northern lights further south than normal.

NLN Aurora cast clock from SWPC 3-day forecast shows 15 hours of G1 storming forecast.
NLN AuroraCast clock from SWPC 3-day forecast shows 15 hours of G1 storming forecast.

A G1 storm watch means that the KP, a global scale of geomagnetic and aurora activity, may reach five out on it’s 0-9 range. As the KP rises higher, aurora borealis can be seen at lower latitudes. KP=5 indicates that the lights can be seen throughout Canada, along the northern boarder of the Continental United States, Northern Europe, and southern New Zealand.

KP is notoriously hard to predict, about 50% of the time a G1 watch is in effect, the KP does not actually rise to that level, but a G1 watch also means that the KP could easily rise higher than five. If you want to know the current KP readings, your best option is to monitor live KP trackers, such as Northern Lights Now’s current live KP chart, which give an accurate KP forecast 35-70 minutes in advance.

The flare that launched the CME was a surprise. It launched from active region 2449, which had a Beta magnetic structure. Typically, active regions need to have a “delta” sunspot in their group and be classified Beta-Delta or Beta-Delta-Gamma. Nonetheless, the solar flare that launched was spectactular. Here is an animated gif of the solar region while the flare was happening. Note that this is a zoomed in image, but that the several Earths could fit in the flare area.

The M3.95 flare from November 9 from SDO imagery
The M3.95 flare from November 9 from SDO imagery over a 12 hour period

When flares eruptions are long duration, like this one was, they can generate CMEs. A coronal mass ejection is a cloud of solar plasma that shoots from the Sun. When a CME is moving towards Earth, it typically arrives between 2 and 4 days later. As the plasma cloud passes earth, it disrupts the magenetosphere and sends charged particles into our upper atmosphere. It is the interaction of those particles with the gases in out atmosphere that cause the dancing northern lights. Don’t worry though! This storm won’t be strong enough to have any impact at Earth’s surface – just enjoy the show!

Happy Hunting