HomeTop StoriesMaps show northern lights likely in Michigan Friday evening amid a geomagnetic...

Maps show northern lights likely in Michigan Friday evening amid a geomagnetic storm

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04:01

(CBS-DETROIT) – Residents across Michigan, even Metro Detroit, were able to see the Northern Lights Friday evening because of a geomagnetic storm. That’s what scientists say it will probably be a strong one too.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space and Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm watch G4 through Saturday, May 11, with the best chance to see the aurora borealis in Michigan Friday evening. G4s are the second strongest form of geomagnetic stormsand this is the first time since 2005 that a watch has been released for a G4.

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WCCO


During this geomagnetic storm, the Northern Lights were visible in several northern states, part of the Midwest, and parts of Oregon and central Idaho. All of Michigan is in the viewing area to see the lights.

Aurora Borealis comes from the sun’s solar wind. Even when these winds are calm, there are auroras in some places on Earth, but they can be obstructed by clouds or sunlight. Strong solar storms can affect life in space, but also on Earth. GPS and communications satellites and even the electrical grid can be disrupted.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said only three severe geomagnetic storms have been observed during this solar cycle, which began in December 2019. The last G4 storm was observed in March this year, and a G5 (or extreme) storm was last observed around 2019. Halloween in 2003. This last storm led to power outages in Sweden and damaged transformers in South Africa.

Tips for viewing the Northern Lights

Here’s a list of tips from the Space and Weather Prediction Center to maximize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights:

  • See the lights at night and away from city lights. It must be dark to see the Northern Lights.
  • Go north and towards the magnetic poles. “Given the right vantage point, for example on top of a hill in the Northern Hemisphere with an unobstructed view to the north, a person can see aurora even if it is 1,000 km further north,” the prediction center said.
  • Try to view the Northern Lights after sunset or before sunrise when it is dark outside.

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