Impressive Solar Flare Activity Could Bring Northern Lights If Clouds Would Clear

An impressive solar flare is heading toward Earth and could disrupt power grids, GPS and airplane flights. Forecasters say the sun erupted Tuesday evening and the effects should start affecting Earth late Wednesday night.

Solar flares release up to a billion tons of matter and may cause unusually large display of auroras, which may be visible at lower latitudes than normal. Chicagoland is at a latitude of about 41°. The last major solar flare to hit earth was late January when impressive displays were seen as low as 50° to 53° lattitude.

Unfortunately, the local weather forecast is for clouds and rain over Chicagoland overnight, so the Aurora are not likely to be seen.

The Statistical Auroral Oval gives an idea where the strongest aurora display may be. The red arrow displays high noon on earth. Click the image for the current activity.

Time lapse from Aurora Sky Station (