The Northern Lights Might Be Visible Across Quebec Friday

According to forecasts from The Weather Network and the NOAA.

Senior Editor
Northern lights in the arctic Quebec region of Nunavik. Right: Northern lights visible above Kuujjuaq, Quebec.

Northern lights in the arctic Quebec region of Nunavik. Right: Northern lights visible above Kuujjuaq, Quebec.

A geomagnetic storm could mean more northern lights sightings, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Its Space Weather Prediction Center first issued a storm watch on August 16 following what it said were "eruptions" from an active sunspot resulting in an "elevated and disturbed solar wind field."

That solar wind has the potential to wreak havoc when it reaches Earth's magnetic field, "Disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio, and satellite operations," according to the NOAA — hence the term "geomagnetic storm."

Such storms also mean a bigger aurora range, as far south as Pennsylvania in this case, the administration predicted.

The geomagnetic disturbance was expected to peak on August 18 but continue as a "moderate" storm on August 19.

The Weather Network, for its part, was as of Friday morning predicting the northern lights would be visible across southern Canada Friday night. Its aurora forecast suggested the lights could be somewhat visible as far south as Montreal and Toronto (though, of course, not near urban light pollution).

But the network also mentioned less-intense-than-expected geomagnetic activity Thursday night. It's unclear if that throws its Friday aurora forecast into doubt.

The Space Weather Prediction Center hasn't yet released its own aurora forecast for Friday night (the forecast only extends to 1:20 p.m. ET as of the time of writing).

On Thursday night, when the geomagnetic storm was supposed to be strongest, there ended up only being a <50% chance there would be an aurora anywhere in the northern hemisphere.

The Canadian Space Agency says that, generally, Canadians seeking a view of the northern lights should head to places with clear skies and no light pollution.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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