Will Oregon, the Coast, Portland See Northern Lights Again?
(Oregon Coast) - Early on St. Patty's Day, a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field, triggering a magnetic disturbance that made a massive display of unusual colors. During the hours before sunrise that morning – as if in harmony with the Irish holiday - bright green skies appeared over multiple US states including Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. (Above: the north Oregon coast, Arch Cape area, with hints of green northern lights above the cloudline).
These also appeared over Oregon and the Oregon coast range. At least one impressive photo was taken just outside of Portland.
Will Oregon and the coast be able to see these still? So far, space storm predictions show the middle latitudes as not on the receiving end on the colorful curtains of light. But that could change.
Jim Todd, planetarium manager with Portland's OMSI, said it's difficult to predict how long the northern lights effects will last, or if they will re-occur. But at least the weather is clearing up both on the Oregon coast and inland areas, like Portland.
More on the previous day's aurora borealis predictions below.
See the photo taken just outside Portland here. Chances are decent this will occur again tonight, according to OMSI's Jim Todd, but it all depends on the magnetic storm that's been hitting the Earth lately. (Above: northern lights just outside of Portland, taken a few years ago).
It seems the Oregon coast will be a bit luckier than Portland, however, as skies are predicted to be clear above the beaches, but not so much inland Oregon.
Todd called it a “slight chance.”
“It will depend on the timing of the arrival and strength of storm front impacting the earth,” Todd said. “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 new phase (March 20) which allows for darker night sky to view the faint auroras. Bad news, the current local weather forecast for this evening is not looking promising for the viewing.”
All this came from what was termed a “severe magnetic storm” by scientists, fired off from the sun a few days ago. It escalated into the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle (Kp=8).
Todd said your best chances are to move away from city lights and look towards the northern horizon for the northern lights.
“May appear as faint glow of curtain of light with colors of green or red,” Todd said. “Good luck and stay warm.”
Chances for this being seen could stick around for a bit longer. Or this could be curtains for these curtains of light. It's hard to say. Todd said there is no way of predicting how long the magnetic storms will keep hitting the Earth or the Pacific Northwest.
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