Tuesday, May 28, 2024
It is very rare for the Northern Lights to be visible so far south in Canada, and even in populated areas where light from human activity lightens the sky. Photo: J Vukadinovic
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May 10/11 Northern Lights display reaches Canada’s south

Potential disruption of communications, power grid, navigation, radio, satellite operations

May 10/11th Northern Lights were visible even above lights from human activity. Photo: J Vukadinovic for RWN

North Americans who do not usually see the Northern Lights witnessed an historic display last night as a massive solar storm made the lights visible all the way to the Canada-US border and well south of it for the first time in twenty years. Impacts of the storm may persist through Sunday, May 12.

The May 10/11th display was caused by several coronal mass ejections (CMEs are expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun) according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center.  

CMEs cause geomagnetic storms when they are directed at Earth. Geomagnetic storms can impact infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on Earth’s surface, potentially disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio and satellite operations. SWPC has notified the operators of these systems so they can take protective action. At time of posting, Road Warrior News has not learned of any transportation systems affected by this storm.

May 10/11 Northern Lights reflected in Sharbot Lake, Ontario.
Photo: J Vukadinovic for RWN
Photo: J Vukadinovic for RWN

What are the Northern Lights?

Click the white arrow at left to view the video.