High Aurora Potential After Massive Solar Flare
Solar storm means impressive light show, but could disrupt communications
Aurora watchers may be in luck Thursday and Friday night, so long as the weather cooperates.
A massive solar flare hit Earth Thursday afternoon and has scientists predicting high aurora viewing potential.
Beyond a potentially spectacular light show, NASA warns the "X" class solar flare—one of the strongest classifications—could disturb the layer of the atmosphere where global positing systems and communications signals travel.
According to UAF assistant professor Don Hampton, solar flares can affect satellite communications, an issue pilots should be aware of, he said.
"GPS navigation could possibly be affected, so you’ve got to be aware of that. Usually it's fairly short-lived, but it's good to know that might happen," said Hampton.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport manager John Parrott said Thursday morning that no flights were impacted in Anchorage.
The light show is the result of the sun emitting a huge solar flare on Tuesday, sending material and energy toward the earth. High-energy particles hit the earth’s atmopshere on Thursday, causing a disruption in its magnetic field. According to UAA professor Dr. Travis Rector, this activity produces the aurora.
"Hopefully it will be an opportunity to see some really great northern lights. There is never any guarantee that the northern lights will be good on any particular night but the prediction is for the next two nights, they should be pretty good," said Rector.
According to the Channel 2 Weather team, clouds may hinder aurora sightings in most of Alaska. The best hope for a clear sky late Thursday and early Friday include:
1. Kotzebue/Noatak area
2. Anaktuvuk Pass/Coldfoot/Bettles area
3. Fort Yukon/Arctic Village region
4. Galena/Ruby area
To view the UAF Geophyscial Insitute's Aurora forecast, click here.
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