The snowstorm might bring something more than just snow!
Seeing the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights, is nearly always somewhere near the top of most people’s bucket lists. The incredible natural phenomenon creates a spectacle that people wait years, even lifetimes, to behold. The only caveat being that to see them clearly you need to venture towards countries closest to the Arctic and Antarctic circles that are, though stunning, extremely cold and often remote.
So what if we told you that the dazzling light spectacle might soon be visible in the skies of the Midwest? That trip to Iceland, Northern Canada, Greenland, or Norway might not be as necessary anymore as The Space Weather Prediction Center has predicted geomagnetic storms will likely allow the mystical light show to make a rare appearance in the skies around the midwest..
An impending snowstorm will be bad news for those fearing the worst of winter but aspiring astronomers and keen sky-gazers might just be grateful for the harsh winter weather as its due to create excellent viewing conditions across the Midwest over the next several days.
With the G3 storm set to begin forming over the next 24 hours, Toledo meteorologist Ross Ellet has said the storm-inspired viewing conditions will clear the way for the elusive northern lights to possibly illuminate Midwestern’s night skies between 9 pm and 4 am tonight. In the Facebook post above Ellet explains that the best chances of seeing the northern lights are being near dark skies away from city lights and looking north within an hour or two after midnight.
But don’t expect a flickering and swaying mesmeric performance as the lights can vary. Sometimes taking on many different colors, shapes, and textures but also sometimes just appearing still. “The most common appearance is a whitish-green haze, blob, or band on the northern horizon. Rarely red colors can show up off and on during strong geomagnetic storms,” says Ellet.
Wondering why and what has caused this? According to Ellet, “A powerful solar flare on the sun launched a charged cloud of plasma toward the earth. These charged particles are expected to interact with the earth’s magnetic field to create the northern lights very high in the atmosphere. If the plasma cloud is large enough, it will start to overwhelm the planet’s magnetic field which will allow the aurora oval to slide south into the United States.”
Don’t worry, we’re equally as bamboozled, but excited nonetheless.
The Midwest & Great Lakes region has a chance to see the northern lights tonight (Dec 9-10th) assuming the clouds stay away. The Space Weather Prediction Center says 10pm to 1am tonight is the most likely time to see this "strong" (G3) geomagnetic storm hit earth. pic.twitter.com/9CCuu58g17
— Ross Ellet (@RossElletWX) December 9, 2020
Space weather forecast accuracy is, of course, far from infallible and the northern lights aren’t guaranteed. If the night sky fails to impress you can always check into a Northern Lights Live Stream and get your fill from the comfort of your own home.