Northern Lights in Virginia?
LYNCHBURG, VA (WSET) -- If you noticed a glow in the sky Thursday night, you weren't imagining it, what you may have seen very well may have been the Aurora Borealis.
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is a feature that occurs when a major geomagnetic storm interacts with the charged particles in the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere.
Most often, these are only visible north of the US/Canada border, mostly near the North Pole.
However, depending on the intestity of the geomagnetic storm, they can on occasion be viewed as far south as the Mid-Atlantic.
Thursday night, a geomagnetic storm occurred, it was particularly strong storm... registering a KP-7 to a KP-8 on the Geomagnetic K-index.
To put it in a local perspective, a geomagnetic storm with the strength of a KP-7 to KP-8 would have enough strength to be view-able near the latitude lines of some of our northern counties. For example, if you were to get in a dark spot... away from the city lights... in places like Nelson, Highland, Bath and Allegheny Counties, you stand a decent chance of witnessing this first hand.
However, as Steve Hammer from Forest found out, you may just get lucky enough to catch a glimpse farther south, too.
For Friday, if you want to see them, it will be between 8 p.m. - 9 p.m. in a place that is dark, away from city lights. You would want to be in a large field, without many trees around you, and able to see the horizon.
Bottom line, the Northern Lights can be visible from our viewing area. However, generally speaking, the best chances of viewing it would fall in the northern most places in our viewing area.
If you're wondering, a geomagnetic storm of KP-10 would have enough strength to be visible across our entire area.
It should also be said, that electromagnetic storms have absolutely no impact on humans. However, GPS systems, radio frequencies, etc. have been known to experience technical difficulties during these storms.