Several of you have asked me about the solar storm that is forecast for tonight. I haven’t mentioned it much because of, well, clouds. The satellite imagery below shows plenty of clouds for our region this afternoon. Clouds are moving from north to south. Folks across the plains may have a nice view of the Northern Lights tonight!
Could we have sees the Northern Lights here in Tennessee tonight if we had clear skies? It’s not impossible. The last time we had a storm of this magnitude the Northern Lights were seen as far south as Crossville (2003). In fact, I saw them! BUT, skies were crystal clear that night.
The Northern Lights are difficult to forecast because energy leaves the sun at different magnitudes. While one solar flare may be active enough to send Northern Lights as far south as Illinois, another burst of activity could send it as far south as Alabama, if for only a short time period.
Tonight’s storm is a Level 3 Geomagnetic storm. The highest level is five. Radio communication disruptions are expected to be confined to Canada.
Solar storms are always a concern. Events in the past have been intense enough to disrupt life on Earth as we know it today. The Carrington Event in 1859 caused telegraph lines to burst into flames! Can you imagine what would happen to power grids today!? Thankfully, tonight’s event is NOTHING compared to bigger events in the past. Still, it would have been nice to try to see the lights tonight.
In other news….
The trick or treat forecast for this evening still looks on track. Just a sprinkle or light shower to dodge and temps in the mid to upper 40s.
The image below was taken by NASA in October of 2014. Using different wavelengths to study the sun, NASA scientists realized two of those wavelengths made the sun look like a jack-o-lantern. How cool is that?