April 24, 2024

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Expect a strong geomagnetic storm ahead of potential aurora displays

Expect a strong geomagnetic storm ahead of potential aurora displays

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) warns. The impending powerful geomagnetic storm has the potential to produce a spectacular display of the Northern Lights over the Northern Hemisphere, as well as some intermittent connectivity issues.

The center said that satellites detected at least one solar flare and a coronal mass ejection emanating from the Sun on Friday.

The aurora borealis occurs when charged particles from the sun interact with the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in the appearance of what are known as the northern and southern lights.

On the 5-point geomagnetic storm scale, space experts believe the first wave of energy could be classified as either G1 or G2 but on Monday it will rise to G3.

A G1 geomagnetic storm is the weakest and typically produces the northern lights over Alaska and Canada. The G3 classification will likely allow the aurora to be seen as far south as Washington, Wisconsin and New York if skies are clear.

SWPC said on Saturday that moderate levels of geomagnetic storms (G2) were observed. Moderate levels are again expected on Sunday night, with strong levels (G3) likely on Monday.

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Things to know about the northern lights

The amount of geomagnetic activity is also monitored by geomagnetometers, and the event is measured on a Kp index scale, which ranges from 0 to 9.

A G3 event with a high Kp index value caused the aurora to be detected as far south as Las Vegas in December.

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Space experts believe that the upcoming event could reach a Kp index value of at least 6, which would put cities such as Seattle, Minneapolis, Green Bay, and Syracuse, New York, in the viewing area.

The Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute expects high aurora activity at Kp-6 levels through Monday night.

“The general public should not be alarmed but may wish to stay informed,” SWPC said.

The FOX Forecast Center expects there will be a lot of obstructions in the sky on Sunday and Monday nights which could complicate viewing.

A large storm system will move through the heart of the country, producing lots of snow and thunderstorms.

In addition to increased cloud cover, March's full worm moon will light up the sky, obstructing the view of other celestial objects.

The faint lunar eclipse will begin just before 1 a.m. EST on Monday and last until about 5:30 a.m. as it passes through Earth's shadow.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a stronger peak of solar activity in 2024 than originally expected

Space experts admit that determining the exact strength of geomagnetic activity is a challenge, even though it occurs frequently.

Geomagnetic storms have become more numerous over the past year, as the Sun begins to reach the maximum phase of its solar cycle.

The solar cycle is a sequence that the Sun's magnetic field goes through every 11 years, during which the field reverses. Solar cycle 25 began in 2019 and could continue until 2030.