By Noel Pai-Young | Lynnwood Times Staff
The Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a warning for a geomagnetic storm that may hit late tonight. Forecasts predict a G1 storm (minor) tonight with geomagnetic activity reaching its peak – category G3 (strong) – on December 10. The storm is expected to last until December 11.
A coronal mass ejection [CME] that took place on December 7th is on its way toward Earth. A CME is a phenomenon where the sun releases large amounts of plasma along with some of its magnetic field. This creates a powerful force of energy that can potentially collied into Earth’s atmosphere effecting the Earth’s magnetosphere – the protective shield around Earth that blocks out solar radiation and other cosmic rays.
Massive CMEs may cause a geomagnetic storm. Depending on the severity of the storm, it can interference with technology including satellites, radar, navigation, and radio. Geomagnetic storms are also responsible for the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis.
The Northern Lights have been visible from Seattle and it may be possible to spot this tonight and tomorrow night with the naked eye. The Northern Lights are generally most visible from 10 PM to 2 AM. Finding a place with minimal light pollution will increase your chances of being able to see the dancing streaks of green and pink lights, however clouds can potentially block the view.
Be sure to send in your photos of the Aurora Borealis to Lynnwood Times at firstname.lastname@example.org. A video explaining what is happening during a coronal mass ejection can be found through NASA’s website here.