JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On March 23rd and 24th in high latitudes around the world people have been treated to spectacular event. The Aurora borealis. This a result of what is called a severe geomagnetic storm.
According to spaceweather.com it was one of the strongest in nearly six years. Auroras were seen across good portion of the United States and even as far south as North Carolina and Texas and Virginia.
The exact cause of this specific storm is unclear, but the best guess is it’s a ripple effect from a Corona Mass Ejection on March 23rd. This is basically when the sun sends a large amount of charged particles all at once. Typically those particles go around the earths magnetic field but in some cases they can break through and collide with particles in the atmosphere, creating an Aurora. It’s noteworthy that each of the colors of the Aurora indicate what type of molecule is being interacted with and at what height.
Here in Florida the Aurora was not spotted but if we go back to September 18th 1941 a similar geomagnetic storm did cause the Aurora be viewed as far south as North Florida. Then again even on March 13th 1989. So twice in the past century. Safe to say it’s rather rare.