Aurora Alert: Strong geomagnetic storm to produce Northern Lights Thursday night; will we see?

The Northern Lights will put on a dazzling display in parts of the U.S. Thursday night

Northern lights as seen from Bald Lake in April of 2023 Photo: Mark Skaggs (Copyright 2023 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

ROANOKE, Va. – NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has forecast a G3 or strong, geomagnetic storm Thursday night.

When a solar storm interacts with Earth’s magnetic field, it sets off a display of the Northern Lights.

How strong that interaction is will determine how far south the aurora borealis can be seen.

How the aurora borealis forms

A forecast from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks indicates a high likelihood of seeing the aurora in the Northern U.S.

Farther south, the chance is still there. There are exceptions, though.

Aurora forecast shows a high likelihood of visibility in the Northern U.S. Thursday night.

For Virginians, it won’t be visible to the naked eye. You need a clear view of the northern sky, little-to-no light pollution and long exposure settings on a camera or smartphone.

There are special exceptions as to whether or not Virginians can see the Aurora Thursday night.

Check in with our weather app here, as clouds may increase Thursday night into Friday morning.

This has been a very active year for the sun as it approaches a maximum in 2025.

Several local photographers have captured ‘Lady Aurora’ several times on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in 2023.

We explain what that could mean for the upcoming winter in our part of Virginia in our 30-minute special winter forecast.

[WATCH HERE: How the sun’s activity could play a role on the Winter 2023-2024.]

This special will air again at 10 p.m. on December 6, 2023, on WSLS 10 News.

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.