Geomagnetic storms will likely increase aurora activity this week

The sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and Atmosphereic Imaging Assembly.
The sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and Atmosphereic Imaging Assembly.(NASA: Solar Dynamic Observatory)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 7:32 PM AKST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The chances of seeing the northern lights this week are higher than usual, following a solar flare and coronal mass ejection from the sun earlier this week.

The CME, which is a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona happened on Monday, prompting National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Dec. 9-11.

It can take anywhere from 15 hours to several days for the CME to reach Earth. Forecasters expect we’ll see the effects from Monday’s solar event here on Earth beginning late on Wednesday and continuing through Friday. The most severe effects are expected on Thursday as activity from the CME is likely to increase. A G3 (Strong) Watch is in effect for the 10th.

During G3 Strong geomagnetic storms, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center warns voltage corrections may be required on power systems, and intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems are possible. This level of geomagnetic storms also brings out stronger aurora activity, at times even visible across the mid-latitudes of the Lower 48.

Did you hear?! The chances of seeing the aurora this week may be higher than normal following a Coronial Mass Ejection from the Sun earlier this week! NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch for December 9th through 11th. In addition to the increased aurora activity, there could also be intermittent satellite navigation and low frequency radio navigation problems from the CME.

Posted by Melissa Frey on Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Geophysical Institue at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is forecasting high auroral activity across most of Alaska Wednesday night and again Thursday night. A live camera from north of Fairbanks can be viewed here.

Southcentral will remain under mostly cloudy skies Wednesday night, although there will be breaks in the clouds at times, especially near Hatcher Pass. Thursday night will bring mostly clear skies across all of Southcentral.

Stay with Alaska’s Weather Source for the latest on the geomagnetic storm and if you capture the aurora this week, share your photos and videos here.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.