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Well, we were able to get a little sunshine today as a weak ridge of high pressure moved through the area. Unfortunately, the next weather system is hot on its heels and will bring clouds and rain back to Alaska through this week. Indications are right now that we may see some improvement in conditions Thursday evening and into Friday (Sep 10th), which may give us a shot to see some light activity over the weekend. If you're like me, you're ready for these clouds and all of the rain to move out and give us some clear skies! We will get them...eventually!
For those of us in Alaska, this holiday weekend has been a bummer of sorts...at least, for those of us itching for the chance to see Lady Aurora. The clouds and rain will continue to stick around through the weekend with conditions beginning to improve around mid-day on Monday (Sep 6). Solar activity is projected to pick up a little bit around then too, with a stream of solar material projected to begin heading our way. There may be a chance to see some activity in the early morning hours of Tuesday, but it does not look hopeful for much the rest of the week as clouds and rain return with the next weather system and persist through next weekend. As always, the weather models can be wrong, so it is good to keep an eye on the forecast for any changes.
This weekend was a long, busy one for getting things cleaned up on the site. What started out as a gee whiz data pull is being accepted as a good tool for monitoring the chance to see auroral activity here in our area! That said, things needed cleaned up a bit and eliminate calls to outside websites. Thus, all code was updated to pull data at regular intervals, store the data in the database, and put the stress on my server versus those of the agencies the data is pulled from. For example, instead of making four calls to the National Weather Service for each page load to generate the cloud forecast, one call is made every 30 minutes, saved, and data is displayed from the local cache. Much more efficient and needed once testing was complete. The solar wind projections and trends block also received an overhaul. It was redesigned to ease viewing and, hopefully, to help with interpretation of the data. The numbers were tweaked to try mimicking what we typically see here in the local Anchorage area, but it may take some time to develop and fine-tune the algorithm to provide the best advice to those trying to see if tonight is a good night to check out the northern lights. More to come and some good ideas in the works for that, so keep an eye out!