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A medium-speed solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field. By itself, this was not enough to explain what happened. The extra ingrediant was the IMF: the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth tilted south, opening a crack in our planet's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in and fueled the display.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% to 25% chance of polar geomagnetic storms during the next 24 hours. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.
MAGNETIC DISTURBANCE UNDERWAY: A disturbance is rippling through Earth's polar magnetic field on March 1st. "The magnetometer needles are swinging here in Norway," reports Rob Stammes of the Polar Light Center in Lofoten. Bright auroras have been sighted in Sweden and Finland.