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SOLAR STORMS, WHY NOT!


May 11, 2024

NOAA Warning: Seven Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are currently racing towards Earth.

NOAA scientists witnessed severe (G5) geomagnetic storm conditions Friday. The last G5 event occurred with the Halloween storms of 2003, more than 2 decades ago. Several additional Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are in transit to Earth’s outer atmosphere, making it highly likely that geomagnetic storming will persist through the weekend.


A large, complex sunspot cluster, which has now grown to 17 times the diameter of Earth, has been the primary source of this activity. Experts still expect additional energy to emanate out of this Region.


G5 level storms in history.

The last G5 storm in 2003, notably caused power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa, underscoring the potential consequences of such powerful geomagnetic disturbances.


Approximately every 11 years, the sun experiences periods of low and high solar activity, which is associated with the amount of sunspots on its surface. The sun’s strong and constantly shifting magnetic fields drive these dark regions, some of which can reach the size of Earth or larger.


Solar flares can affect communications and GPS almost immediately because they disrupt Earth’s ionosphere, or part of the upper atmosphere.


Energetic particles released by the sun can also disrupt electronics on spacecraft and affect astronauts without proper protection within 20 minutes to several hours.


The material sent speeding away from the sun during coronal mass ejections can arrive at Earth between 30 and 72 hours afterward, impressive considering the sun is 93.88 million miles away. Speeds of up to 160 million miles per hour have been estimated. The ejections cause geomagnetic storms that affect satellites and create electrical currents in the upper atmosphere that travel through the ground and can have an impact on electric power grids.


One of the positives of increased solar activity is that it causes auroras that dance around the Earth’s magnetic poles, known as the northern lights, or aurora borealis, and southern lights, or aurora australis. When the energized particles from coronal mass ejections reach Earth’s magnetic field, they interact with and ionize gases in the atmosphere to create different colored lights in the sky. All weekend long, the auroras are possible in our northern skies, especially between midnight and 5:00am. As I write this, I'm witnessing numerous shafts outside my house at 2:05am., but the color and intensity is less than experienced in other locations. That may change as the night wears on.

By the way, aside from space weather aloft, there will be weather on the earth's surface as well, and it looks very nice. I'll have more on that below.


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THIS WEEKEND'S BEAUTIFUL WEATHER IS DEDICATED TO MOM

All systems are go for dry conditions for the daytime hours of Saturday and Sunday. Temperatures will remain just a hair below normal Saturday, in the upper 60s to low 70s. However, it will be a bright, shiny day.


Mother's Day continues to look very nice until late in the day or evening, when there is a slight chance of a shower or storm, mainly in the north. Moisture is rather sparse, which should hinder rain chances. The bulk of the day appears outstanding, with mostly sunny skies and highs of 79-83. Yes!


THE ACTIVE PATTERN CONTINUES

After the fabulous weekend, rain returns Monday, perhaps lingering in the south into early Tuesday. Later Tuesday and Wednesday appears dry, with another rain threat possible Thursday. As was the case yesterday, the EURO is far more aggressive with the second system and indicates less in the way of rain. Here's what the two models suggest for rain totals through next Friday.


The EURO

The GFS


The slower, wetter look of the GFS is also significantly cooler. It keeps highs in the 60s and even the 50s a couple of days from Tuesday through Sunday of next week. I'm hoping the EURO with its more progressive and less chilly solution wins the day. At this point, I'm leaning towards the EURO. Time will tell. The 8-14 day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows nothing better than normal temperatures.


That's far better than the GFS, which shows 10-day average temperature departures well below normal May 16-26th. I really hope the GFS is overdone, I'm ready for some warm weather.


With that, I'm on my way back out to check out the northern lights. Word is they've been seen as far south as Texas and the Carolina's. Fingers crossed. If not more tonight, another good chance for us all Saturday night. Roll weather...TS

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