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Wha' Happened? Primo Northern Lights Viewing Opportunity Largely A Bust

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This weekend was supposed to bring a prime northern lights viewing opportunity for much of Minnesota and, for the most part, it turned out to be a bust.

The state was under a solar storm watch this weekend, and it appeared that the peak viewing time for the aurora borealis was expected to fall from 4 to 7 a.m. Sunday, with the greatest chance to see them away from the Twin Cities, largely in northern Minnesota.

WCCO's weather team reached out to information security engineer and self-professed amateur astronomer Tony Rice, who provided some context to why the viewing opportunity largely fell apart.

He said that the energy observed in the solar flare did reach Earth with a measurable impact, but it was weaker and later than expected, and not enough to produce any auroral activity into the U.S. during nighttime hours.

"Bottom line, the CME (coronal mass ejection) hit us but it was traveling slower than forecasted so it arrived closer to daylight hours and appears to be more of a glancing blow than a direct hit," Rice said. "In a word, it was a bust."

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