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Geomagnetic storm expected Monday night; clouds might interfere with aurora in North Dakota

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 2:42 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - On Saturday, the sun let out a big pulse of radiation, also known as a solar flare, which travels through space, eventually to earth’s atmosphere, and this is where we could have the potential to have a geomagnetic storm over the next couple of nights, Monday night being the strongest.

So, what exactly is a solar flare? Meteorologist Heidi Werosta explains:

It’s an eruption of high energy radiation from the sun’s surface, and it looks like a fire released from the sun’s surface, kind of how you would expect.

Of course, though, it can cause electromagnetic disturbances here on earth -- at the surface and in space. So what is the strength of this one?

Well, the forecast goes for G2, or moderate. G1 over the next couple of nights.

This whole system, this scale, goes up to G5, so this is not the strongest that we could see. But what it has the potential of doing is create weak power grid fluctuations, meaning we could lose power for a couple minutes to a couple of seconds.

We could see satellite orientation irregularities.

That means we can toss some of the satellites out of orbit, just for a couple of minutes or so. And then the Aurora Borealis, the northern lights, also electromagnetic, create some of those changes that we’ll see here on earth.

Monday’s northern lights may be seen from 55 degrees of latitude and northward — that does include North Dakota — except cloudier skies might get in the way.

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