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  • Welcome to Amazing Weather!

    I grew up in Kansas and have always been fascinated with the weather. Growing up, we had our mix of bad winter storms and very strong summer thunderstorms. I joined the Air Force in 1999 and, when a computer-related job was not open, I chose weather. It has helped me appreciate what Mother Nature has to offer. This website is simply my attempt to share that love and allow others to come to one common place on the Internet to do the same.
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  • The Amazing Aurora Blog

    • By Ronnie in The Amazing Aurora Blog
         0
      I don't know how many of you are like me: ready for the night! Here in the Anchorage area, we are starting to get longer nights, albeit slowly, but it is happening! The past couple of weeks have had us socked in with clouds and rain, so tonight is potentially going to be a long one. We have a couple of chances this week for good auroral activity!

      Image Source: SWPC
      The above image is from the Space Weather Prediction Center's WSA-Enlil model depiction. As you can see, midnight Alaska Daylight Time shows the first coronal mass ejection (CME) impacting Earth; a great time for us to see this happening since it will be dark! You can see the second CME behind it which is projected to impact us around nearly the same time on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Unfortunately for those of is in/around Anchorage, clouds look to be a factor for the arrival of the second CME. Tonight looks to be our best shot to start the season off great!
      Again, this is a model depiction, so it must be taken with a grain of salt. However, the data observed so far today appears to be in line with what the WSA-Enlil product is showing. If it holds true, we should be in for a treat tonight! 😄
    • By Ronnie in The Amazing Aurora Blog
         0
      We may...MAY...have another good shot at some good aurora activity coming up on April 16th. The weather for the week looks to be pretty bleak, but Friday's forecast is looking like partly cloudy skies with some potential clearing late. The problem is the lack of darkness. We will enter nautical twilight around 11:30 p.m. and come out of night at around 2:40 a.m. with the sun starting to move into sunrise. My experience this weekend was that activity was hard to see after about 3-4 a.m. due to the sun starting to rise and the activity being very faint. The Kp forecast is for a 4 on Friday, so we will see if that pans out and how it translates. Right now, I am looking to go out and set up around 1 a.m. but might go earlier depending on how data lines up. We shall certainly see!
    • By Ronnie in The Amazing Aurora Blog
         0
      Well, you can't say we didn't try! We went out to Hatcher Pass last night, about an hour and 15 minutes north of our house, and sat there from 10:00pm until roughly 1:30am this morning. We were very hopeful we would see some activity. The space weather sites were talking about geomagnetic storming, forecasts were showing Kp index values forecast to hit 4 and 5, and Mother Nature gave us a rare, cloud-free night. It seemed like a perfect combination of variables for a great night of watching the northern lights...and, nothing!
      I am trained in terrestrial weather forecasting, so this space stuff is somewhat new to me. I did spend a couple of years analyzing the sun at one of our solar observatories, but we did not really do much with the solar wind, Kp, etc. Thus, I am learning about all of this stuff during this, my first winter in Alaska. I have gathered that solar wind speeds have to be elevated, above 400 km/s, with a density of at least 10 cm3, and a Bz in the negative. Last night, wind speeds were around 325 km/s, density was up just around 10 cm3 or slightly above, and the Bz was bouncing up and down. It wasn't great data, but the hope was there. Some started to see some faint lights after about 3:00am and I watched Facebook, in anticipation, until about 3:30am before I called it quits. It just wasn't meant to be. However, we did get some good out of it!
      I tested the latest iteration of my All-Sky camera. We successfully tested the off-network connection of the camera to my iPhone. This was a critical piece because the webserver for the camera can be utilized to view the latest live photo and make adjustments as necessary. Additionally, we tested that there is enough power from our vehicle's USB ports to power the camera while it sits on top of the roof. Thus, we were able to keep an eye on the sky from the warmth of the car and adjust exposure, gain, and other variables to see what worked best. In the end, it was a good trial run, even if Lady Aurora refused to put on a show!
      We may head out again tonight, but I am going to keep an eye on the cloud conditions. We have a pretty mature low-pressure system and ridge battling it out just over far western Alaska, so I am crossing my fingers that Mother Nature gives us one more shot at seeing some good activity from Lady Aurora this week. We'll see!
    • By Ronnie in The Amazing Aurora Blog
         0
      Tonight and tomorrow (February 6-7, 2021), the Kp forecast is 4. This is based on the Earth-facing coronal hole which developed on the sun. They anticipate solar wind speeds to pick up and a stream of material to impact the near Earth environment. Right now, the speeds are average (in the 372 km/s range) and density is average as well (around 5 p/cm3). So, we'll keep an eye on those values throughout the day tomorrow to determine if tomorrow night looks like a good night to chase. The cloud forecast for tomorrow night looks very, very favorable; so, it looks like a good possibility of a long night ahead. I am still trying to determine exactly where we will set up tomorrow. Too many people hit the high-elevation and scenic spots when the aurora comes in. I don't need scenery, I just need lights! Right now, I am thinking we will probably roll our around midnight to 1:00am on the 7th. Keep your eyes peeled to the live chase page around that time to see if we are out. I will also be posting to Twitter as well. Feel free to join us virtually!
    • By Ronnie in The Amazing Aurora Blog
         0
      We got a very nice treat on February 13, 2021, when Lady Aurora showed up! The Kp forecast for the day was 2, so there was no reason to believe we would really have a good show. I was working on creating a block for solar wind data here on the website and, while doing so, noticed that the numbers appeared to be trending positive for potential aurora activity. As I sat watching the values continue to improve, Bz going very negative; Bt climbing to above 10; density reaching 22; and the wind speed increasing to over 400, I had a feeling we were going to get a show! We just had to pray the values remained elevated...and, they did!
      I put out a message to the JBER Northern Lights Facebook group, a group of people affiliate with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson who admire the aurora, around 4pm Alaska time to let them know what I was seeing. There was an alert from SpaceWeatherLive.com earlier in the day about an Earth-facing coronal hole moving into position with activity expected to increase Sunday night into Monday morning, but there was nothing being discussed for Friday. However, the data just kept saying, "Lady Aurora is coming tonight!" So, I wanted to make everyone aware to keep an eye out for her.
      We did not get much activity before the main band of lights hit. Sometimes, when values are supportive of auroral activity, we will get a short show between 8pm and 10pm Alaska time. A lot of people hit the "early show" since it is more conducive to children and early morning work shifts. Last night, however, there was really nothing leading up to the 1am to 4am window of activity. She simply just put on one show and that was it. As we drove out to Big Lake, we could see the arc intensifying and I just kept praying, "please hold off until I get into position!" There was a bit of movement in the arc, but the majority of activity held off until right around 12:30am. The main portion of the lights tailed off around 2am with the arc re-intensifying around 4am for a short-lived burst of minor activity. All in all, it was a very good night of aurora chasing. I will certainly be keeping an eye on the data today to see if February 14 will start with another amazing display! 
        
        
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