Northern Lights may light Northwest skies Sunday night

Thanks to a geomagnetic storm from the sun, skywatchers across most of Canada and the northern U.S. should get a special treat Sunday night into Monday morning: A visit from the aurora borealis, aka the Northern Lights.

The sky spectacle should be visible in states such as Washington, Idaho, Montana and other northern states, according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.

Folks in cities such as Seattle and Spokane all have a fair chance of seeing the aurora.

KGW chief meteorologist Matt Zafino said while chances are slim, there is a possibility some in northeast Oregon may get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

"Look to the norther, around after midnight, and try to get away from the glare of the city lights," Zaffino advised.

The event is courtesy of a solar flare, which erupted out of a sunspot late Thursday into early Friday. The flare blasted out X-rays, which caused a minor radio blackout over parts of Asia, the Weather Network reported.

The flare also released a wave of charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection, which take a couple of days to reach Earth.

The aurora forms when those particles flowing from the sun get caught up in the Earth's magnetic field. The particles interact with molecules of atmospheric gases to cause the famed glowing red and green colors of the aurora.

The lights are visible in both the far northern and southern parts of the world. The southern lights are known as aurora australis.

NOAA has issued a geomagnetic storm watch for the event and expects a "moderate" storm, a 2 out of 5 on its severity scale.

If you see the lights, please share your photos via email at shareit@king5.com or uploading them here.

 

Sunday night, the aurora borealis should be visible almost as far south as the yellow line on this map. (Photo: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center)

© 2017 KING-TV


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