Will the northern lights be visible in CNY this weekend?

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) – People across the country and around the world were treated to spectacular views of the aurora borealis, or northern lights (in the Southern Hemisphere, aurora australis, or southern lights) on Friday night. Unfortunately, clouds obscured the view here in Central New York. Will we get a chance to view this amazing phenomenon at all this weekend?

Could we see the northern lights tonight?

We are in a good spot geographically to be able to see the northern lights once again tonight, however, meteorologically, things are not looking promising.

Unfortunately, it is looking like another cloudy night ahead, just like we saw on Friday night.

Along with the clouds, showers and periods of steady rain are also likely.

How about Sunday night?

The chance to see the northern lights returns on Sunday night, and it does appear that there will be breaks in the clouds, perhaps enough to get a decent view here in Central New York. We will keep you updated as we fine-tune the forecast.

What are the ‘northern lights’ and why do they occur?

Bursts of energy are emitted from the sun in what is called a ‘coronal mass ejection,’ or CME. This solar energy travels through space then reacts with the Earth’s outer atmosphere. Electrons and protons in this part of the atmosphere become ‘excited,’ resulting in the colors that make up the northern lights in the sky.

Geomagnetic storm conditions continue

A series of CMEs traveling toward Earth prompted the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue its first ‘severe’ G4 Geomagnetic Storm Watch since 2005 on Thursday.

Since then, G5 conditions have been observed. This is classified as an ‘extreme’ geomagnetic storm, the highest level on the scale. This is the first time a G5 has been observed since 2003!

According to the SWPC, “storming of varying intensity will persist through at least Sunday.” Not only are the stunning views of the northern lights possible again Saturday night in areas of the northern U.S. with favorably low cloud cover, but there is also a risk of adverse impacts on communications, such as degraded GPS signal. A geomagnetic storm of this magnitude could also have disruptive implications on the power grid.

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