Geomagnetic storm watch issued, auroras could be visible in northern U.S.

Geomagnetic storm watch issued, auroras could be visible in northern U.S.
A geomagnetic storm could make the auroras more visible in parts of the northern U.S.

(KFVS) - A geomagnetic storm watch was issued for May 16 and could mean auroras will be visible in the northern parts of the United States.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the moderate watch is due to a series of CMEs expected on May 15 and lasting through May 17. A minor storm watch is in effect for May 15-17, also.

A moderate geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for May 16. (Source: NOAA Space and Weather Prediction Center)
A moderate geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for May 16. (Source: NOAA Space and Weather Prediction Center)

You can click here to check the aurora forecast.

According to NOAA, CMEs are coronal mass ejections, or large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona.

CMEs travel outward from the sun. The speed can range from slower than 250 kilometers per second to as fast as nearly 3,000 kilometers per second. According to NOAA, the fastest earth-directed CME can reach the planet in as little as 15-18 hours and slower ones can take several days.

Auroras are one effect from CMEs.

According to NASA, after traveling toward earth, the solar particles and magnetic fields release particles already trapped near earth, which in turn trigger reactions in the upper atmosphere.

This reaction is oxygen and nitrogen molecules releasing photons of light, resulting in the Northern and Southern lights.

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