Northerners who are starting to surface from the confines that kept them safe from the frigid temperatures that have encased much of North America might get a reward and be able to see the gorgeous northern lights for the next few days. Space weather forecaster Joe Kunches has stated that the Sun sent out an extremely strong solar flare late Tuesday evening. The solar blaze occurred when it was facing directly toward the Earth. That meant the energy from this burst may even continue to send energy this way for several days.
This type of condition is what ends up causing the northern lights. This solar flare might really shake up the Earth’s magnetic field and magnify the Aurora Borealis southward, going possibly as far down as central Illinois, Colorado and to the southern part of lower Michigan. The best possible viewing is believed to be Thursday evening, if the weather permits.
That is where the trouble comes in. Weather does not always cooperate. The main problem people find with getting to see the northern lights is cloud cover. In the deep cold of winter, there are usually a lot of clouds in the northern areas that can see the northern lights. There may be some good news this go-round. Weather forecasters have stated that for most of the viewing area, it is believed that cloud cover may be thin on Thursday evening but no one will know for sure until then. There are always sprinkled patches of clouds around the sky this time of year. There may be very good viewing for those who have the chance, but who knows for sure.
The University of Alaska is stating that most of Canada and the northern parts of the United States should be able to see the northern lights without any problem. Boston, Chicago, Seattle, Cleveland and Des Moines might see the sparkling colors sitting low on the skyline.
This solar storm has already started causing problems for airline flights, causing them to have to be diverted around the poles and may even mess with various GPS devices on Thursday.
Weather forecasters also have a difficult time predicting just exactly when the northern lights will happen. The sky has to obviously be dark. The times of midnight to 5 a.m. are usually considered the best times when northern lights put on their greatest show.
This will be the very first northern lights display of 2014 for the United States and Canada. It may be a really good one since the solar flare was so strong. The solar flare on Tuesday ended up setting the stage for the possible bright display, which might happen across the northern part of the United States on Thursday night. It takes a solar flare to more directly face the Earth, as was stated above, so to have a much better chance of having strong auroras and for them to be visible.
If the northern lights do show up Thursday night, it may give northerners a bit of a boost from the frigid temperatures they have had to endure the past few days.
By Kimberly Ruble
Baraboo News Republic