While forecasting the Northern Lights can be tricky with no guarantees, the conditions are lining up for a potentially great show for Aurora seekers this week!
NOAA's NWS Space Weather Prediction Center shared an update to a previously-issued geomagnetic storm watch, which upgrades the previously-issued G2 watch to a G3 watch for a part of this week.
If you don't know what any of that means, The SWPC issues G-level storm watches based on solar activity. This information is valuable for a number of purposes including satellite communications, but it is also handy for people looking to catch the Northern Lights. The higher the G-number of the storm, the more likely an Aurora show tends to be, with higher numbers also indicating greater intensity or viewing opportunities further south.
When will this week's Northern Lights viewing opportunities be?
There are two weeks with chances for a decent show across Northern Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin, with possible opportunities further south, too!
The first opportunity is tonight (November 29), with KP-Index numbers for tonight up to 5. If you don't know what that means, NOAA says when KP Index numbers are between 3 and 5, the Northern Lights tend to be brighter, more active, and migrate south to a point where areas in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin could get a pretty good show if the sky is clear.
The area that has the best viewing opportunities with a KP-Index of around 5 is in areas to the north of the green line, which includes the northern third of Minnesota, and the northern extremes of Wisconsin.
It is never a guarantee, but it means the odds are much better than the average night.
Adding to this news, it looks like there may be some clouds to contend with, but it shouldn't be enough to obscure a show tonight.
The second opportunity of the week looks even more promising, though!
Night two this week could be even better!
The G3 geomagnetic storm watch the SWPC issued shows impacts for Thursday night, November 30, carrying into the early hours of Friday, December 1 for our part of the world.
On Thursday night, KP-Index numbers could go upwards of 6 or 7, which means the odds of an even more active and vibrant show are possible in Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, with viewing opportunities extending even further south!
During the big Northern Lights show that dazzled people across the Northland back in May of this year, KP-Index levels soared as high as 7 at times in the night, with a very active scene through much of the night in the sky.
In the map above, the yellow line indicates potential viewing opportunities - at least on the horizon - if conditions are right. Anyone north of that line could be in line to see something!
Clouds could hinder a good show, but as of right now, it looks like things should be clear enough to see a show on Thursday night, too!
In the meantime, here are some other great photos captured by listeners from another viewing opportunity earlier this year:
Listener-Submitted Photos Of The Incredible Northern Lights Show On September 18, 2023
Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper