January 2015 – GEOSCIENCE – A strong geomagnetic storm sparking bright auroras erupted early Wednesday morning over the Northern Hemisphere, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. The storm is listed as a G3 on the NOAA storm scale which is considered large, but not the most severe. It’s still strong enough to cause irregularities with power systems, GPS and security systems by triggering false alarms. Beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, the storm could impact spacecraft and cause orientation problems in satellites.
The storm is also sparking auroras around the Arctic Circle, which can be seen as low as Illinois and Oregon. “The interplanetary magnetic field tipped south, opening a crack in our planet’s magnetosphere,” the Space Weather Center said on its website. “Solar wind poured in to fuel the strongest magnetic storm since Sept. 2014.” –CBS
Polar Vortex coincides with geomagnetic storm: A renewed blast of arctic air has prompted wind chill warnings, watches, or advisories for over 180 million in the U.S. in anticipation of the coldest weather since the so-called “polar vortex” event one year ago. The combination of wind and cold air is leading to dangerous and potentially life-threatening wind chills Wednesday over a large part of the Midwest. Wind chills have dipped as low as 54 degrees below zero in Grand Marais, Minnesota, and Wednesday morning. Unlike the arctic chill that ended 2014, this cold blast will bypass the West and plunge south and east, bringing below-freezing temperatures all the way to the Gulf Coast by Thursday morning.
This second round began Tuesday afternoon as cold northwest winds began blasting into the Northern Plains. This next shot of cold air is surging south and east and is now moving into the East Coast states and the South. Thursday will bring the coldest actual air temperatures for many areas, as lows will plunge into the single digits and teens for much of East, with subzero readings in the Midwest and interior New England. While there haven’t been many record cold low temperatures set thus far, some cities from the Northeast to the Upper Midwest and Deep South will flirt with or break their daily record lows. –Weather Channel