After Wednesday flop, could the Northern Lights show up on Thursday?

Northern Lights
CREDIT: Shanna Lewandowski
Credit: Shanna Lewandowski

SPOKANE, Wash.– The Aurora can be a fickle phenomenon.

This is what we told you Wednesday when a strong geomagnetic storm was expected to hit right as the sun was going down in the Northwest. Instead, the power of this solar storm would crash and not move back to storm levels until 5 a.m. Thursday. This solar storm ended up being a dud for our area. Only the most patient skywatchers could have seen a brief burst of activity late in the night.

There is still plenty of solar activity expected on Thursday night that could make up for the disappointment. The latest outlook from the Space Weather Prediction Center has another burst of activity that’s already ongoing on Thursday afternoon. Periods of Kp 5 activity or higher are forecast all the way up to midnight Friday in our time zone. We need Kp 5 or higher in order to see the Aurora in the Inland Northwest.  The question will be whether the fluctuations in the brightness of the Northern Lights will cooperate more than they did Wednesday night. It’s always worth checking before you go out chasing the lights!

Check using the SWPC Aurora Dashboard

Moisture from the Southwest Monsoon moving into the region will also throw a wrench into any plans for Aurora chasing. Cloud cover Thursday night is expected to cover 30% to as much as 60% of the sky at times. While sporadic solar storm activity will continue to reach Earth into Saturday, the ideal Northern Lights viewing window in the Pacific Northwest has probably passed us by this time.

cloud cover aurora forecast 8-18-22

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