Severe geomagnetic storm could produce spectacular aurora lights over Ontario


Published May 10, 2024 at 11:13 am

aurora lights ontario may 10

A severe geomagnetic storm could produce spectacular auroras borealis over Ontario tonight and early tomorrow morning.

A severe geomagnetic storm watch has been issued for across North America, according to U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center.

The centre is monitoring the sun following a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections that began on May 8.

“Space weather forecasters have issued a Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for the evening of Friday, May 10,” a post on the Space Weather Prediction Center website reads.

Several sun spots and flares have led to the severe watch, the first G4 watch issued since 2005. The scale goes from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme).

Additional solar eruptions could cause geomagnetic storm conditions to persist through the weekend, the centre notes.

Three separate coronal mass ejections or explosions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s corona were observed.

These explosions can impact communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations if they are directed at the Earth.

Geomagnetic storms can also trigger spectacular displays of aurora, also known as Northern Lights, the Space Weather Prediction Center notes.

Normally, aurora borealis are only visible in northern regions, but in a severe geomagnetic storm there is potential for the lights to be seen in southern Ontario and even as far south as Alabama and Northern California, the centre notes.

The geomagnetic storm is expected to peak late Friday night into very early Saturday morning, with the strongest aurora potential around 11 p.m. Friday (May 10) to 5 a.m. Saturday in Ontario, according to the Weather Network.

Cloud cover and bright city lights in the GTA could limit the chances of seeing the aurora.

Partly cloudy conditions are expected for southern Ontario tonight and tomorrow, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

So, there is a chance to see the northern lights if you can get away from the city tonight.

Lead photo: Gashif Rheza

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