Cliff Bulk Weather Blog: Significant Auroras Possible Tonight

People in the northern half of Washington State are likely to see a dramatic aurora show tonight.

A high mass ejection (CME) on the surface of the sun resulted in a stream of particles moving into the earth’s magnetic field.

One measure of the disturbance of the earth’s magnetic field is Kp: aurora activity moving south into our region typically requires Kp of 5 or more. The estimated value right now is 6.

And the predicted peak value is 7 between 8 and 11 tonight (see below)

The weather tonight is relatively clear in northern WA and southern BC (see image can be seen below), but some cloud debris from the current thunderstorm/shower in northern Oregon could do disorder observed in the southern part of the state of WA.

Here’s an “expert tip” to help you decide whether to go outside in the dark.

The DSCOVR satellite sits between us and the sun and measures a variety of parameters providing a time of 49 minutes for major aurora activity. You can watch this on excellent live site space weather. Below is a sample.

Keep an eye on the second panel (plasma density). If it turns dark orange or red, it’s an outside excursion. In golden time right now (4pm).

See when and where?

We’re lucky that the night is widening, but it won’t be dark enough to see the aurora until astronomical sunset (around 10:20 PM) — two hours after sunset.

You need a dark location looking north. My recommendation in Seattle: Go to Magnuson Park and climb to the top of the kite hill. Nice view north down to Lake Washington. The park closes at 11:30 pm. If enough of us go, it’ll be safe enough.

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