I’ve got green on my mind and it’s not because I’m Irish. On March 15 a magnetic filament – a strand of solar flame silhouetted against the sun’s brilliant disk – erupted in a long-duration flare that sent a blast of solar plasma directly toward the Earth. Traveling at 2 million miles per hour, the cloud of high-speed electrons and protons will slam up against our planet’s magnetic bubble and possibly touch off an auroral storm.
Minor auroras are forecast for mid-northern latitudes tonight March 16 with a chance for a major storm on Sunday. If you live in the Arctic, get ready for a good show – chances for a major to severe storm stand at 70% Sunday (20% for mid-latitudes).
These are the best numbers I’ve seen in some time, so be on the lookout this weekend for green rays step-dancing across the northern sky.
As always, keep an eye on the Kp index and the extent of the auroral oval, both of which are useful indicators of auroral activity. If the Kp index bar is colored red (equal to 5 or more), there’s a good chance auroras are out at least for the northern U.S. and southern Canada.
As I write this in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the index is already rising and auroras appear to be pushing into the far northern U.S. If it wasn’t for a heavy snow falling, I’d go out for a look-see right now. More updates later today.