Rare solar storm could create active northern lights in Minnesota

Minnesotans may have a chance to see the northern lights this weekend thanks to a rare solar storm.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a rare geometric storm watch — the first in nearly 20 years — starting Friday and lasting all weekend.

The agency said the unusual event could produce northern lights as far south as Alabama and northern California in the U.S.

Officials say the strong system has the potential to also disrupt some communications, noting flares that started Wednesday were capable of disrupting satellites. An extreme geomagnetic storm in 2003 caused disruptions in other parts of the world, knocking out power in Sweden and damaging transformers in South Africa.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute says the best time to possibly see the “highly active auroral displays” in Minnesota will be early Saturday morning, between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., weather permitting, of course. However, it could be visible away from city lights even earlier. CLICK HERE for the latest forecast from Minnesota’s Weather Authority.

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center’s northern lights forecast for May 10, 2024, shows a strong likelihood that Minnesotans will be able to see the aurora early Saturday morning. (Courtesy: NOAA)

The Associated Press contributed to this story.