CHECK IT OUT: Northern Lights spotted in southwest Virginia Sunday night

A severe geomagnetic storm was observed, meaning the aurora could be seen farther south than usual

Northern lights as seen from Bald Knob Photo: Edward Shaw III (Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va.UPDATE 10 p.m. Sunday

The Northern Lights have been spotted in Southwest Virginia!

See received a couple of photos from viewers below, and see more by clicking here.

This is the second time in a month that they’ve been visible this far south.

Northern lights as seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway in Montvale Photo: Alex Thornton (Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)
Northern lights as seen from Botetourt County. Photo: Kati Grace Collins (Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)
Northern lights as seen from Bald Lake Photo: Mark Skaggs (Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

If by some chance you get a good shot of the northern lights or other weather, send it to Pin It!

We explain in this quick TikTok how the aurora forms this far south. You can also see that explained further down in this article.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center says a ‘severe geomagnetic storm’ was observed Sunday afternoon.

What does this mean?

The sun - during a solar storm - releases a flare of sorts. This interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere where its magnetic field is weakest (the poles). This is why the North Pole sees the Northern Lights so much more frequently.

How the Aurora forms

However, when a stronger storm occurs - it can be seen farther south. This happened in March of 2023 (see above picture).

Most recent forecasts show it being visible as far south as Northern Virginia, but these haven’t been updated to account for the strength of the geomagnetic storm.

If this severe geomagnetic storm were to continue, it’s possible that we see a faint glow on the northern horizon in Virginia Sunday night. You have to get to a dark, remote spot and possibly to a higher elevation as well.

Aurora Borealis forecast for Sunday night, 4/23/2023

About the Author:

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.