The strongest geomagnetic storm in at least six years hit between March 23rd and 24th. The storm cause is unclear at this time, but it is thought to have come due to a ripple effect of a near-miss coronal mass ejection (CME) on Thursday.
Many were lucky enough to see the northern lights for the first time in their lives last night. In fact, the northern lights were seen in far southern latitudes that included New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina!
The northern lights are commonly seen in the northern latitudes, including the Dakotas, Canada, Minnesota, Wyoming, etc., with typical geomagnetic storms, but this storm was the strongest in years, allowing the lights to make it down to the lower latitudes.
The beautiful side effect of these storms is the aurora borealis and the stronger the storm, the farther south these northern lights make it.
The Space Weather Prediction Center have noted this geomagnetic storm event as a G4 – severe. Usually, these types of storms have the ability to cause widespread voltage control issues and low-orbiting satellite issues causing possible problems with navigation and radio frequencies.
The sun has been increasing in activity as it reaches its peak in its 11-year cycle with two more years to go. We are likely to see more geomagnetic storms as activity continues to increase, even higher than current forecasts.