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Aurora Alert for Portland, Oregon Through NY Eve; Coast Has Better Chance

Published 12/30/2015 at 4:23 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff


(Portland, Oregon) – Bring in the New Year with a truly special glow. (Photo above: Aurora Borealis in the coast range).

Portland astronomy expert Jim Todd and NOAA officials are giving this state a heads up for tonight and New Year's eve, saying to look up because there's a decent chance Oregon and the coast will get a glimpse of the northern lights.

If it does happen, the coastline and eastern Oregon have better odds of seeing it.

After a sizable coronal mass ejection from the sun (CME), NOAA announced yesterday there is a 50 percent chance the famed aurora borealis will reach all the way down to Portland, inland Oregon and the coast. It's predicted to show in the wee hours of Thursday morning (late tonight) and then perhaps even New Year's Eve.

“Best chance to see any auroras, the G-scale (KP) should be 6 or higher,” Todd said. “It will depend on the timing of the arrival and strength of storm front impacting the earth. The KP index forecast are generally made three hours in advance. Oregon is located in the middle latitude for space weather forecasts. The good news, the moon is near last quarter (Jan 1) which allows for darker night sky to view the faint auroras.”

Todd said NOAA uses a five-level system called the G-scale, to indicate the severity of both observed and predicted geomagnetic activity. This scale ranges from G1 to G5, with G1 being the lowest level and G5 being the highest level.

Patchy fog may obstruct views in the Portland and valley areas, and even then it will be below freezing and in the 20's. Meanwhile, the Oregon coast forecast is for clear skies and lows in the 30's – still frigid, but not as cold as inland.

“If it's clear in your viewing area, best to move away from the city lights and look towards the northern horizon for the northern lights,” Todd said. “It may appear as faint glow of curtain of light with colors of green or red.” Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Maps and Virtual Tours






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