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“Cannibal” storm affecting Earth could bring northern lights to Portugal

‘After the downpours’ comes the cold…

Yesterday’s downpours, causing floods and upsets over large parts of the country, are expected to be replaced by a ‘cold front’ spiced up by a ‘cannibal storm’.

What it could mean for Portugal, is that for the second time since the 1930s, the northern lights (aurora borealis) may be visible in the night sky.

José Afonso, researcher and President of the Portuguese Astronomical Society, has been explaining that a ‘very strong solar storm’ is due to pass close by, or even collide, with Earth, following a series of explosions in the sun (on November 28) that launched masses of charged particles into space.

Right now, we have two or three that could collide with earth, he told SIC last night. One of them will be the strongest of all, which is why it is called the ‘cannibal storm’.

According to Afonso, it is possible that satellite communications will be disrupted, as well as radio communications. Less likely, but still possible, is that auroras will be seen at relatively low latitudes, which they were only a few weeks ago.

The sun has a peak activity of 11 years, the expert explains, which increases and decreases throughout the cycle. At the moment, it is showing a peak of activity that causes several explosions to occur on its surface which, in turn, throw large amounts of matter far away. On the way, they may encounter the Earth.

“This results in solar storms that affect the Earth. And what can you see? Auroras. Spectacles of light that can be seen in the night sky and which are due to the interaction of those energetic particles expelled by the sun with the Earth’s atmosphere.” 

The phenomenon, according to the researcher, is “innocuous and spectacular” and usually only occurs in the northern or southern regions, close to the poles. The observation of auroras, in general, does not extend to very low latitudes, like Portugal.

Meantime, today for many involves a mop-up operation as a result of yesterday’s torrential rains that brought with them the habitual flooding in low-lying areas of Lisbon.

December is bringing with it cold, frosts, and possibly even some snow in interior northern and central areas, but not, according to weather channels, for very long.

Source material: SIC Notícias