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'Northern Lights' could reach Md. latitudes Thursday, but clouds expected

A burst of charged solar particles hitting the Earth was expected to stir a dramatic show of the aurora borealis Thursday night, but cloudy conditions could kill chances of seeing it in Maryland.

A coronal mass ejection, an event in which a burst of matter and electromagnetic radiation, was released from the sun Tuesday in Earth's direction. When such solar winds interact with Earth's magnetic field, it can create beautiful shows of what are known as the Northern Lights.

Scientists expect the light show could come much further south than usual, making it possible to be seen in northern Maryland, according to AccuWeather.com.

But slim chances of seeing the aurora here are expected to be made even slimmer by clouds forecast to move over the region by Thursday afternoon. Good chances are meanwhile expected in parts of Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Montana.

Auroras are rarely seen this far south, but it has happened in the past decade. 

"I've seen it before out here, but last night was unbelievable," former WMAR-TV meteorologist Norm Lewis told The Sun in 2004 about a show that occurred that Nov. 7. "Most of it was green, with some red mixed in. It started out ... looking like a long cloud. Then it started developing these vertical spires, so it came down in sheets and got very pronounced." 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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