A little bit behind schedule, this afternoon, a coronal mass ejection, or CME, struck the earth’s atmosphere. It is anticipated that a geomagnetic storm will follow this initial impact over the next several hours. The hope is the storm will still be raging after sunset tonight – giving some in Iowa the chance to see some northern lights. If the skies clear, there’s a chance some could see the northern lights, especially on the horizon.
Iowa is considered in the mid latitudes and it’s somewhat rare to see a good northern lights show, but it’s not unheard of. Right now the data shows as long as the skies stay clear, there’s a decent shot at seeing them but there’s a few things to keep in mind.
First, make sure you are as far away as possible from any light sources on the ground. If the northern lights are visible they will likely be faint and close to the horizon looking north. If the conditions are just right, we could see this scenario play out later tonight here in Iowa. And if we’re really lucky, we might see a more impressive show.
We’ll monitor tonight’s potential and will try and capture the northern lights here in Iowa, if they decide to put on a show for us.
The Space Weather Prediction Center (yes, that really is an organization under the NOAA), is reporting class G1 (minor) geomagnetic storms occurring right now. Over the course of the weekend, forecasters believe a class G2 (moderate) storm is possible triggering large and more vibrant northern lights. Normally these moderate storms are not easily visible in Iowa, but a stronger storm or good visibility on the horizon could give us a little peek. Stay tuned….