Geomagnetic storm causes high aurora activity over Alaska

Aurora active as far south as the northern tier of the Lower 48
Geomagnetic storm causes high aurora activity over Alaska
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 9:45 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska is once again getting hit by some strong aurora borealis displays.

The National Weather Service’s Space Prediction Center issued a “severe geomagnetic storm alert” late Thursday night, meaning that there was a severe disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field. The disturbance was created by a series of coronal mass ejections the past couple of days, which has resulted in very high levels of aurora activity over much, if not all, of Alaska and Canada.

The forecast also called for the potential of aurora activity as far south as Washington, Idaho, Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the upper peninsula of Michigan early Friday morning.

Besides the spectacular streaming light show, the very high auroral activity may cause some disruptions with telecommunication systems, spacecraft (including satellites), and the power grid into Friday morning. Additionally, the center says that high-frequency radio communication could blackout on most of the sunlit side of Earth for one to two hoursm with no HF contact during that time. Outages of low-frequency navigation signals can cause increased error in positioning for one to two hours. Minor disruptions of satellite navigation is possible on the sunlit side of Earth.

The forecast for Saturday also calls for moderate to high levels of auroral activity, but the KP index — which is used to forecast auroral activity — is expected to drop slightly to between a 4 and 5 on a scale of zero through 9.

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