Northern lights possible due to incoming geomagnetic solar storm

Will St. Louis see Aurora Borealis Saturday night?

ST. LOUIS – Keep an eye on the northern sky this weekend!

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm wall.

NOAA expects the wave of energy from a solar storm to arrive Saturday night. This can trigger waves of northern lights over mainly the upper midwest.

We have to wait and see if the lights become visible all the way down to St. Louis.

One thing is for sure, our skies will be ready just in time.

Tips for reading weather forecast maps from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks:

  • University of Alaska, Fairbanks: Solid green line is the range of visibility of less active screens further down the horizon, green and white blobs refer to more active screens higher in the sky. Along the green line, experts would not expect much more than a general shade of green to the northern sky.
  • NOAA: Green does not mean northern lights, it means the probability of northern lights. Visibility may extend south of the blob indicated in this forecast, but lower on the horizon and less spectacular.

This is the strongest coronal mass emission (CME) in this solar cycle and the first in about 4 years, and it is aimed directly at the Earth.

So NOAA issued a G3 (strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for 30.-31. October after a strong solar flare that broke out over a sunspot in the southern hemisphere of the Sun on October 28 around kl. 11:35 EDT. This outbreak produced a CME.

High energy particles are on their way to Earth. The more energy, the more it can move along magnetic lines as it is directed in from the North and South Poles, increasing the chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights.

Current forecasts have the line where possible activity may be visible well into the northern United States, as far south as northern California, Oklahoma, Tennessee and North Carolina. This includes St. Louis area.

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