Aurora Update: 2nd CME blast due Saturday night; 3rd Sunday night?

Weekend Aurora Update:

The latest from

INCOMING CME: “A CME from sunspot AR1429 is nearing Earth. According to analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud will arrive on March 11th at 0649 UT (+/- 7 hr). NOAA forecasters say the odds of a strong geomagnetic storm at that time is 50%.”


“Sunspot AR1429 is still erupting this weekend. On Saturday, March 10th, it produced a powerful M8-class flare that almost crossed the threshold into X-territory. In New Mexico, amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded a series of shortwave bursts emanating from the blast site: audio. Also, the explosion propelled yet another CME toward Earth: forecast track. The cloud is expected to hit our planet’s magnetosphere on March 12th around 1800 UT. A CME from an earlier explosion will arrive much sooner, however.”

**originally posted 4pm Friday**

Auroras reports from Duluth, St. Cloud, Pine City & northern metro locations early Friday!

2nd Solar Storm headed Earthward this weekend

Huge Sunspot #1429 triggering frequent Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s)

66 degrees – record high at MSP Airport Saturday!

59 previous record high in the metro Saturday, we broke it

Rain likely Sunday PM – evening

60s again next week – feeling more like late April

70 possible next Friday?

Rainy, thundery & mild May-like St. Patty’s Day Weekend?

Aurora Sightings:

It was a good early morning Friday for sky watchers in central and northern Minnesota! Northern lights were visible in several locations. The displays were very low to the horizon, so you really needed a clear, dark spot with good visibility to the north.

I spoke Friday afternoon with storm chaser & photographer Doug Keisling who shot the excellent video below. He said the light show was vibrant and did shoot overhead at times, but the bright moon limited what his cameras could pick up.

Here are some more photos via

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Ben Chorn Mar. 8, 2012 Duluth, Minnesota, USA


The best I have ever seen! They flickered and moved like none I had seen before. Definitely worth getting frostbite again. Sony A230, 30 sec exposure, f/5, 200 ISO

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Bob Conzemius Mar. 9, 2012 Bovey, Minnesota, USA


This was a wonderful display with a whole variety of lights. Everything, from the steady, green band to the pulsating lights, was seen tonight. I’ll be putting the pictures into a video later. Canon 5d Mk II, f1.4 24mm lens and f2.8 16-35mm lens. Exposures ranged from f4.0 to f1.4, ISO 1600 to ISO 400.

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Friedrich Deters Mar. 9, 2012 Spring Lake Park, Minnesota


I noticed them start after 5:00am. They looked great even from the Twin Cities.

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2nd CME blast headed Earthward this weekend!

Forecasting the appearance, strength and timing of northern lights is an art at best, but there may be more dispays in Minnesota this weekend.

Active Sunspot #1429 unleashed another earth-directed CME Friday, forecast to strike earth around midnight Saturday night/Sunday AM.

The M-6 class CME is supposedly weaker than the previous X class flare, but from the looks of the NOAA animation of the CME wave this one looks like a direct hit in earth, and not a glancing blow.

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Skies should be clear in most of Minnesota Saturday night, with rain moving in Sunday night, so it looks like after midnight Saturday night until sunrise Sunday morning is your best shot to see the aurora this weekend.

Good luck and happy hunting!

Sunday Rain:

A low pressure system spins up from the south by Sunday afternoon. Look for rain showers to increase Sunday late PM & evening.

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The “April Showers” in March look to be light to moderate with rainfall totals generally between .20″ and .40″ possible by Monday morning.

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Like April & May next week!

Next week should feature the best stretch of weather since late last fall. Highs should be in the 60s most days, with a shot at 70 by late week.

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Temps will run a good 20 degrees above average for most of the week. What little snow we have in the west & north metro will be long gone by next week. Could we see the first green shoots by next Friday?

St. Patty’s Day in May this year??

Next weekend will have the look and feel of May in Minnesota! A persistent southerly flow will keep things mild. Moisture form the Gulf of Mexico will stream north…and that means a wet and potentially thundery weekend!

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We could see our first widespread bouts of thunderstorms roaming across Minnesota…and potentially our first severe storms.

We’ll see, it’s still early..but something I’ll be watching next week.

Spring Forward!

Don’t forget to set the clocks ahead Saturday night!

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Sunset time on Sunday is 7:15pm!

Have a great weekend!


  • Randy in Champliln, MN

    Nice forecast Paul, I like how you are looking deep at the pattern to come up with your temps!!! Kudos

  • Marcus

    Hi Paul,

    Do you know if the 2nd CME blast that you announced came later than expected, or was it a no-show? I drove up to St. Croix Wild River State Park over by North Branch on Saturday night with the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights, but did not see any. I arrived by the entrance of the park right around midnight, and pulled over on a local road and turned off the car and lights for a while and waited but they did not show. I thought it would be a good location as it was out of the lights of the Twin Cities – the only thing I’m wondering is, the moon was pretty bright that night, would that have prevented any good viewing? I headed home around 2 am but stopped a couple times to pull over to be sure I didn’t miss anything, still to no avail. Do these events usually occur a couple times over the summer? I’d really like to get some good photos!