GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A strong C7 solar flare earlier this week has prompted the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a “strong geomagnetic storm watch” with the chance of seeing the northern lights overhead as far south as Indiana overnight Wednesday.
We have fog in the forecast Wednesday night, but luckily skies are pretty clear. If you can find a break in the fog, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the lights. This forecast graphic showing expected visibility at the surface indicates the air will be fairly humid and prepped for areas of fog or a reduction of visibility.
According to the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute, a storm of this magnitude is expected to produce a KP index of 7. That usually allows people as far south as Indiana and Pennsylvania to see the northern lights directly overhead, and those as far south as Tennessee and Nevada to see it when looking to the north.
The best window for viewing the aurora is forecast to be from about 10 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday EST, but this could very well change. Space weather prediction is much harder to forecast for than surface weather and could fluctuate greatly.
For one night only, the dark sky park in Cass County has decided to open with fees waived until midnight due to the increased chance of seeing the aurora Wednesday and Thursday.
The sun is now entering into a more active sun spot cycle than previous years, meaning our chances of seeing the northern lights will likely be higher in the coming years than they have in the last decade or so.