Later this evening, a solar storm is bringing a chance to see the vibrant colors of the northern lights to Southeast Wisconsin.
That is, as long as the weather cooperates.
It can be confusing trying to map out a northern lights show, with terms like geomagnetic disturbance and coronal hole, which is not to be confused with coronal mass ejection, making the process complicated to understand.
To provide perspective on this particular event, and I spoke with someone I know can make the complicated make sense to everyone: TMJ4 Chief Meteorologist Brian Niznansky.
“What happens is you get what’s called a solar flare. [Which is] basically when the Sun decides to have its own little explosion and sends radiation towards us and other planets. When that radiation hits our atmosphere, it interacts with all kinds of atoms and molecules, and that’s how you get the pretty lights.”
But you still need good conditions to view the aurora, and Niznansky says this time around that could be problematic.
“There are clouds and there is rain that are in play. It’s not going to be a completely overcast sky, but I do think we’ll be dealing with enough cloud cover that it’s going to be difficult to see the northern lights tonight.
But just because the forecast doesn’t seem favorable, doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
“You find a little window, and as we get closer to that timeframe maybe we are all able to see on the satellite and in computer modeling that ‘Hey, there’s going to be a window of two to three hours’, then we can pinpoint that.”
Niznansky advises to listen to this evening’s weather forecast for the most up-to-the-minute information on cloud cover.
IF you get a chance to see the aurora and capture any mesmerizing pictures or video, we’d love to see it at WTMJ! Send your media to [email protected] or get in touch on the Old National Bank Talk & Text Line at 855-616-1620.