Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Aurora visibility in U.S. Friday night

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UPDATE (9:18PM) -- The aurora is visible in south Louisiana. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has observed an extreme geomagnetic storm, the strongest to affect earth since October 2003. At this strength, faint colors of pink, purple and green may be seen in skies away from the light pollution of urban centers along the Gulf Coast. The best viewing times will continue through 5am Saturday. 

The aurora observed near Walker, LA by Storm Station Meteorologist Balin Rogers

A severe geomagnetic storm is expected to affect earth Friday night. According to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, (SWPC), this is a result of at least seven coronal mass ejections. The sun spot causing this is 17-times the size of the earth. Geomagnetic storms are common around a solar maximum. Only three such storms have occurred since this sun cycle began in 2019.

Severe geomagnetic storms can cause disruptions to satellite communications and navigation systems, terrestrial based radio and even the power grid. However, most know the visual result of such a storm known as the aurora.

While activity could get underway as early as sunset on Friday evening, SWPC forecasts call for the strongest part of the storm to arrive between 1 - 5am. In south Louisiana, it is unlikely that anything will be visible to the naked eye. In the northern part of the state and away from city light pollution, with a long exposure camera, there is an outside chance of seeing a faint green glow on the horizon.

Along the Canadian border the so-called Northern Lights will be visible to the naked eye. There is even a chance of catching a glimpse as far south as Washington D.C. westward to San Francisco. Regardless, nobody should expect to see dancing ribbons of green and purple as publicized in online photos and videos.

For additional solar activity and forecasts, visit the SWPC site. When you see weather (or space) happening, share it with us! Email photos to weather@wbrz.com or submit them via the Storm Station Weather App.


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