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A Strong Storm Still Surprises

Dear <<First Name>>,

The solar storm we have been expecting all week has finally hit and surprise! It bumped us to G2-storm levels! This is a bit unexpected, considering we haven't had a moderate level solar storm in several months. As promised, the storm has brought aurora to many places in like Latvia, Scotland, Ireland, England, Greenland, Iceland, and Canada. Aurora has even dropped down into the USA. On top of that, aurora australis has been seen already in several places in Tasmania and in New Zealand. I will be sure to highlight these aurora field reporter photos in an upcoming video. 

As for the forecast, we likely saw the strongest part of the solar storm hit last night. Judging by the solar wind arriving now, we are at or very near the peak of the fast solar wind stream. The strength of the magnetic field in the solar wind has diminished somewhat, but with the wind being so fast, it doesn't take much to keep us near storm levels. Therefore, over the next few days, expect aurora to continue pretty steadily at high latitudes, while at mid-latitudes we begin to see things calm down. Aurora shows at mid-latitudes should become more sporadic, with pulsating aurora and sub-auroral arcs (a.k.a. STEVE) dominating the views.

As far as amateur and emergency radio is concerned, propagation on Earth's day-side should continue to be slightly better than what one would expect for the current solar flux levels (solar flux is varying between 64-66 now), while night-side propagation should steadily improve, especially at low latitudes. Auroral propagation will still be possible over the next few days. With the surprise of this storm reaching G2-levels, no doubt GPS reception is also taking a hit. Reception even down to mid-latitudes might be a bit glitchy, but should begin to recover within the next day or so. Expect daytime reception to improve faster than night-time reception, with GPS reception near dawn and dusk being the most troublesome.

Although most predictions of this solar storm underestimated its strength, honestly, I can't complain. It is always nice to see a G2 level storm during solar minimum. Judging by the number of people out chasing aurora and sharing their field reports, plenty of savvy people in this community remain with their eyes fixed on our sleepy star.  But to those who have already forgotten the big storms of solar maximum, its a healthy reminder that at any time our Sun can send us a newsworthy show. What a gift it is to know that a strong storm still surprises.

A Solar Storm Returns & a Polar Filament Erupts | Space Weather News 10.24.2019
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