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Moderate Chances of Aurora / Northern Lights Over Washington / Oregon Coast. But Weather?

Published 08/17/22 at 5:48 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Moderate to Slim Chances of Aurora Lights Over Washington / Oregon Coast. But Weather?

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(Portland, Oregon) – [UPDATED 5:58 p.m.] --- It may be a moderate to slim chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis over the Washington coast and Oregon coast in the next 24 hours, but we here in the Pacific Northwest will take it. There is also the small matter of weather, which er...um...doesn't look that accommodating – until about Friday.

However, according to astronomy expert Jim Todd at Portland's OMSI, there has been a sizable set of CME's (coronal mass ejections) coming from the sun on August 14 and 15, the first of which are starting to hit now (Wednesday afternoon), during daylight hours. It's expected to keep battering the Earth through Friday night, which then leaves hope for those on the Washington coast or Oregon coast, and even Portland.

Todd offered numerous suggestions on finding the phenomenon.

“Keep in mind, the strongest levels could be during the day, so timing and strength determines the night time visibility,” Todd said. “Best bet is to take a digital camera (DSLR or advance smartphones) on a tripod and take 3 to 5 seconds exposures towards the northern horizon. If the picture shows some shades of green to red curtain-like images, chances are the auroras are active. Sometimes the auroras low and faint above the northern horizon, not visible to the naked eye. Auroras can last for few minutes or few hours. Move away from city lights and find clear northern horizon to improve your chances to see the northern lights.”

Even though Oregon Coast Beach Connection is a publication about the Oregon coast and Washington coast, to be perfectly honest your best bets on photographing this in the next evening or two will be far inland, in central Washington or central Oregon – and eastward.

However, some of this is expected to last through August 19 – Friday – where conditions really start to open up later at night. The forecast for most areas of the south coast around Bandon or Coos Bay are still rainy or foggy in the evenings, and even on Friday it's mostly cloudy. Once you get farther up into the northern half of the Oregon beaches the evening clouds begin parting more on Friday, and it gets better heading into the Washington coastline for areas like Westport or Forks.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

The solar flares coming off the sun are creating a Kp index G2 storm (geomagnetic storm), which makes for a slim to moderate chance of spotting the northern lights over the U.S. and Pacific Northwest.

You can see more up-to-the-minute space weather forecasts at the NOAA Aurora 30-min Forecast page.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the incoming waves of solar energy could be well be getting stronger on Thursday, then subside a little.

“An increase to active levels is expected, with G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm conditions likely on 17 Aug as a recurrent, negative polarity CH HSS becomes geoeffective,” NOAA said on its site. “By early on 18 Aug, the CH HSS is expected to couple with the anticipated arrival of the 14-15 Aug CMEs, likely increasing activity to G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm levels. G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm conditions will likely persist into 19 Aug as additional CMEs could impact Earth.”

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Moderate to Slim Chances of Aurora Lights Over Washington / Oregon Coast. But Weather?


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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees nearly 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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