'Historic' Geomagnetic Storm Could Make Northern Lights Visible Again Sunday Night For Millions In The US

Magic of the Northern Lights to return tonight for millions in the US

For those fortunate enough to witness the breathtaking aurora borealis across the US sky this past weekend, there is hope that the stunning phenomenon could return Sunday night for much of the nation.

The stunning Northern Lights, which were visible as far south as Florida Friday night, are expected to make a reappearance for much of the US tonight, forecasters say, promising more incredible displays for millions of Americans.

While the dazzling light show won't be as far-reaching as Friday's historic display, the aurora borealis could still be bright and active enough Sunday night for viewings in most of Canada and Alaska, as well as parts of the continental US, forecasters predict. This could include cities in the northern parts of the US like New York and Chicago, as well as as far south as Alabama, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center.

The colorful spectacle is the result of an ongoing geomagnetic storm that has been sweeping the Earth's atmosphere, causing dazzling displays and extraordinary phenomena in orbit.

This weekend's storm ranked as a G3 or G4, strong enough to disturb power grids, navigation systems, and radio communications. According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, the storm's intensity peaked on Saturday and forecasters say it could dip to a G2 level, still strong enough to cause some disruptions, Monday before dissipating Tuesday.

However, the dazzling aurora borealis is more likely to be visible Sunday night across the US, forecasters say.

While the northern geographies are best for optimal viewing, the NOAA still offers some guidance for those looking to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon Sunday night.

Viewers are encouraged to travel as close to the magnetic poles as possible, where even low-level activity is visible and to find a location away from the hindrance of city lights. The agency recommends trying between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, when the lights are typically visible.

This weekend's rare cosmic spectacle was the result of solar wind, streams of ionized gas originating from the Sun that interact with the Earth's magnetic field.

The storm started Friday and prompted the National Weather Service to issue its first severe geomagnetic storm watch since January 2005. The aurora borealis was visible across nearly all of the US, even as far south as the Florida Keys.

The intensity of geomagnetic storms is measured by the NOAA's G-scale, which ranks them from one to five based on severity. Over the weekend, the storm ranked as a G3 or G4, and briefly reached G5 or "extreme" activity Friday night. While activity is expected to be slightly less intense Sunday night, the Northern Lights should still be vibrant enough for viewing in much of the US.

Forecasters say the storm is expected to weaken Monday but could still be strong enough to cause some disruptions and continue affecting the Earth's atmosphere through Tuesday.