Parts of Southern Manitoba which had relatively clear conditions Friday night were treated to a somewhat rare celestial event, with the Northern Lights making a Spring-time appearance.

On Thursday, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Centre issued its first Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch since January 2005, after at least five coronal mass ejections directed at Earth were observed, with the estimated arrival time as early as mid-day Friday, and potentially lasting through Sunday.

"A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth," explains the Centre's information page about the phenomenon. "The largest storms that result from these conditions are associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) where a billion tons or so of plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, arrives at Earth." 

Only three "Severe" geomagnetic storms have been observed during this current solar cycle which started in December 2019.

Where weather conditions allowed Friday night and early Saturday morning, the Aurora Borealis were visible across much of Canada and the United States. 

"Weather permitting, they may be visible again tonight (Sunday)," stated the latest update from the Centre.

Geomagnetic storms can cause issues with power grids and communication networks. According to the Saturday morning update from the Space Weather Centre, "Power grid irregularities and degradation to high-frequency communications and GPS," have been reported in some places in the U.S.