CME IMPACT, SEVERE GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Arriving earlier than expected, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on March 17th at approximately 04:30 UT. At first,the impact sparked a relatively mild G1-class (Kp=5) geomagnetic storm. Since then, however, the storm has intensified to G4-class (Kp=8), ranking it as the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. This storm is underway now. Before sunrise, bright auroras were sighted over several northern-tier US states including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas and Washington. Marketa Murray sends this picture from Dalton Highway in Alaska:
"The auroras were insane," says Marketa who regularly runs a photography workshop on the Arctic Circle. She has seen a lot of auroras. "I have never seen anything like this."
This storm could continue for many hours to come as Earth passes through the turbulent wake of the CME.
via Solarham.comMarch 17, 2015 @ 14:40 UTC
St. Patrick's Day Storm / Solar Update
March 17th, 2015 is turning out to be a very lucky day for sky watchers. A Severe G4 Level (KP=8) Geomagnetic Storm was observed following the passage of a coronal mass ejection (CME). Solar wind speeds increased to near 700 km/s and the Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) pointed sharply south (-20 to -25nT) for long durations, thus helping to intensify storm conditions. Sky watchers at middle to high latitudes should be alert for additional aurora displays during the next 24 hours once it is dark outside. Additional sub-storming will be possible should solar wind conditions cooperate. See the update below for fantastic aurora imagery.
On the sun, region 2297 continues to decay as it approaches the west limb. Solar activity declined to much lower levels. The chances for a strong solar flares are on the decline. A few other sunspots are now present and should be numbered 2302 and 2303 later today. Stay tuned to SolarHam.com for the latest data.