Northern Lights could make an appearance Wednesday night

Northern Lights in Reardan
CREDIT: Jennifer Griggs Moser

SPOKANE, Wash.– Wednesday night will be the best chance in a while to see the Northern Lights in the Inland Northwest. The Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado has a Geomagnetic Storm Watch in place for Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Two eruptions of solar energy will combine into one before they reach earth sometime tonight.

G3 aurora alert 3-30-22

NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

What does this mean if you want to see the Aurora? You won’t have to go far. There should be a period of three to five hours where the Aurora should be visible in the Inland Northwest right after the storm first arrives. The solar storm is forecast to hit as early as 5 p.m but could arrive as late as 2 or 3 a.m.

You can check the Kp level here. It has to be at least at level 5 or higher for the Inland Northwest to have a chance at seeing it. The peak of the Aurora will be close to level Kp 7, which would mean all of the Inland Northwest should be able to see it!

how far south can you see the aurora?

How far south can you see the Northern Lights based on Kp level (NOAA)

The forecast for tonight isn’t perfect, but good enough that it might be worth your time to find a dark patch of sky to search for the lights. Clouds should cover anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of the sky around sunset and clear out to 10 percent or less by midnight. Some communities north of Spokane may hang onto some clouds for a little bit longer in the evening.

cloud cover forecast 3-30-22

If you want to maximize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, getting away from city lights is your best bet since they’ll compromise your night vision. Find a dark spot with some open space to your north so you can spot any lights lower on the horizon. Good luck, and be sure to share any pictures you get of the Aurora to our weather photos section!

Here are some tips if you’re trying to snap a picture of the Aurora in town:

  • Face north towards a dusty gray or slightly green part of the sky
  • Open your phone on night mode and/or tap the screen and slide up the brightness to let in more light
  • Set a long exposure with a wide-open iris on a conventional camera

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