‘Severe’ geomagnetic storm may spark auroras over Canada Sunday night

Forecasters see the potential for auroras to fill the night sky over Canada late Sunday—but clouds might obscure the show for many across the country

A geomagnetic storm washing over Earth could spark a vivid display of auroras in the skies over Canada late Sunday night.

Forecasters with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) announced on Sunday that a G4 ‘severe’ geomagnetic storm arrived as the weekend drew to a close.

While the peak of the storm is expected to produce the best show over parts of Asia and Europe, the latest forecasts call for solid odds of photogenic auroras for sections of Canada expecting clear skies Sunday night.

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G4 Geomagnetic Storm March 24-25 2024

Sunday’s aurora potential arrives courtesy of a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME), a release of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s exceptionally hot outer atmosphere.

A CME hitting Earth allows charged particles to seep into the upper atmosphere around the magnetic north pole, ionizing gasses like oxygen and nitrogen in a striking display of colours that wiggle across the night sky.

This weekend’s geomagnetic storm was powerful enough to register as a ‘severe’ G4 on the G-scale, which scientists use to measure the intensity of a geomagnetic storm. The scale ranges from from G1 (minor) on the low end to G5 (extreme) on the high end.

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Sunday night’s activity is expected to approach a Kp 7 after sunset across much of Canada, which is near the high end of the Kp scale used to measure the disruption to Earth’s magnetic field.

Forecasters expect the potential for auroras to continue through much of the night over Canada.

Geomagnetic Storm Cloud Forecast March 25 2024

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This could make auroras visible across most of the country away from light pollution, with the potential for spectacular colours over parts of interior B.C., the Prairies, and northern sections of Ontario and Quebec.

Some areas may have to contend with thick clouds, especially as a sprawling storm begins pushing into the eastern Prairies and Great Lakes region. Low clouds are also likely across coastal B.C. and portions of the Alberta foothills. Cities where clouds may obscure the sky include Toronto, Winnipeg, and Calgary.

The best opportunity to see the aurora will likely exist across portions of interior B.C., the northern and central Prairies, and sections of northern Ontario.

Skies could clear out enough in eastern Ontario for folks away from the lights of Ottawa to see a bit of colour. Good viewing will be possible for much of southern and eastern Quebec, as well as much of Labrador.

Let us know if you spot the aurora! Tag @weathernetwork on X (Twitter) and Instagram, use #ShareYourWeather, or submit your best weather images to our photo gallery to share your wonderful skies with the world.

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