Auroras Possible — Look Up

Unless of course . . . clouds. NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a rare G4 geomagnetic storm watch which could produce a northern light show in our area late Friday night into early Saturday, May 11th (geomagnetic storms are measured on a five-point scale):

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is an eruption of solar material. When they arrive at Earth, a geomagnetic storm can result. Watches at this level are very rare. The CMEs are anticipated to merge and arrive at Earth by late on May 10th or early on May 11th.

WPRI has a comprehensive write-up with a good explanation of solar flares and CMEs. They suggest that optimum viewing time will be between 10pm Friday to 4am Saturday morning. Look north.

“The aurora may become visible over much of the northern half of the country, and maybe as far south as Alabama to northern California,” the agency wrote.

Could geomagnetic storms cause problems for the humans?

During storms, the currents in the ionosphere, as well as the energetic particles . . . can modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS. While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines.

So if things get glitchy, it might be this.

Updates here at the SWPC dashboard.

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