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Northern Lights / Aurora Possibilities for Oregon / Washington Coast Through Friday

Published 03/30/22 at 8:35 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Northern Lights / Aurora Possibilities for Oregon / Washington Coast Through Friday

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(Oregon Coast) – The National Weather Service's (NWS) Space Weather Prediction Center has announced a series of watches for the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis tonight through Friday for the northern tier states, which could include as far south as the southern Oregon coast. It's more likely the northern Washington coast will see something – if anything occurs - but unfortunately weather will likely not cooperate along the coastlines. (Above: Aurora Borealis in the Oregon Coast Range, from Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

The NWS said a pair of solar flares erupted on March 28 and were heading this way towards Earth. The result is one geomagnetic storm at a G3 level (strong) and another at a G1 level (minor). However, the later one was the faster of the two and is expected to hit the Earth before the first one.

All this means the possibilities of Northern Lights especially tonight (Wednesday), and a little bit on Thursday night and Friday night.

A G1 watch is also in effect tonight (Wednesday) and a G2 (moderate) watch is in effect for April 1. These are continuing disturbances, the NWS said, but weakening ones over time.

“Impacts to technology from a G3 storm generally remain small, but it can drive the aurora further equatorward of its polar home,” the NWS said. “Aurora may be visible over the northern tier states if the conditions are favorable.”

Even so, the NWS said radio blackouts are a distinct possibility tonight because of what they termed an X1 Flare, creating a “strong” radio blackout.

“Initial indications are this flare was associated with a new coronal mass ejection (CME) and SWPC forecasters are currently examining data to confirm any CME, and if verified, analyze further to determine whether there may be any Earth-directed component,” the NWS said. “This same sunspot group has been the source of multiple M-class flares (R1 - Minor) over the past few days, with the strongest prior flare being an M4 at 28/1129 UTC.”

Weather along the Oregon coast and Washington coast may have much to say about these ethereal lights in the sky, however. Many areas inland stand a better chance Wednesday night through Friday.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

NWS weather predictions are for mostly cloudy conditions to completely cloudy tonight and Thursday for the bulk of the Oregon coast and Washington coast. However, Thursday and Friday lighten up considerably down south, with areas like Coos Bay, Bandon, Gold Beach and Brookings being mostly clear on those nights, thus allowing a better view of any northern lights. However, because of their low latitudes the chances for seeing the Aurora Borealis may diminish, although the NWS is indicating the electromagnetic storm is strong enough to possibly be visible even in northern California. That leaves the south coast in a lucky spot.

Willamette Valley areas like Portland to Eugene will likely be clearer on these nights. Experts advise getting away from city lights and looking to the north. Your chances of seeing this will be much better with the right kind of professional camera equipment, meaning a long exposure on a tripod. Often, these phenomena cannot be seen with the naked eye. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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

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