ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In what could be the first of multiple hits in the next several days, a minor coronal mass ejection hit Earth’s Magnetic Field on Wednesday, August 17. NOAA forecasters say that this could lead to strong G3 class geomagnetic storms, particularly from August 18-19.
During these types of solar storms, you can typically see the aurora borealis—the Northern Lights—with the naked eye as far south as Illinois and Oregon. Unfortunately, conditions do not look favorable to see much in the Capital Region, as clouds will be tough to break over the coming days.
So what is a G3 class geomagnetic storm? Each of these solar storms is classified on a scale from G1, relatively minor, all the way up to G5, which can be extreme.
What could we expect if the skies were to be clear? Typically with a G3 class storm, there could be intermittent satellite navigation and low-frequency radio navigation problems. And we would receive a beautiful display of the aurora!
With a G3 storm, the Northern Lights can be seen low on the horizon as far south as Pennsylvania, typically in the Capital Region, we would be able to see the colors in the sky, but they would appear relatively faint.
If we get any clearing over the next few nights, look north, low in the sky! Remember, if you spot them, given our southern latitude, the colors will probably appear very faint. You could use a long-exposure camera to capture the softer hues that might form. And if you find clear skies, make sure to get away from light pollution. Unfortunately, even if we were to get some clearing, the light from the waning gibbous moon may also work to conceal some of the colors.