Geomagnetic storm watch means light show could be imminent

There’s a reasonable chance of an impressive northern lights display on Thursday or Friday this week as a geomagnetic storm potentially strikes.

Astronomy North said on Wednesday a pair of coronal mass ejections from the Sun – bursts of plasma and accompanying magnetic field – were due to reach the Earth.

The United States’ Space Weather Prediction Center says a G3 storm watch is in effect for Thursday, meaning a mid-level storm in the five-step solar storm ratings system.


That kind of storm usually isn’t enough to cause significant damage but could generate stunning aurora, which are intensified when coronal mass ejections increase the strength of the solar wind.

Astronomy North forecasts a 40-percent chance of a show on Thursday evening and a 75-percent chance of the lights putting on a display overnight, into the early hours of Friday.

There’s a similarly elevated northern lights forecast for Friday night.

According to Astronomy North, people in Yellowknife, the South Slave, Dehcho, and Sahtu are the most likely to see impressive aurora.

The forecast in Yellowknife, Hay River and Fort Simpson is for a partly cloudy night on Thursday. The Sahtu could have a clearer night sky.