Northern Lights may glow this weekend. Will weather cooperate?

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The Northern Lights visible in Allegan County on May 14, 2019. (Courtesy RFyan Bale)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Just in time for Halloween weekend, an explosion of plasma from the surface of the sun will give us a chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 

A coronal mass ejection, or CME, happened Thursday. The ejection of solar plasma is moving through space toward Earth and has the potential to lead to some colorful displays overhead. The Space Weather Prediction Center has issued geomagnetic storm watches for Saturday and Sunday. 

The geomagnetic storm watch scale ranges from G1 to G5, with G5 being a watch for an extreme geomagnetic storm and G1 a watch for a minor geomagnetic storm. A G3 geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for Oct. 30, so a strong geomagnetic storm is possible. 

A G3 geomagnetic storm watch means we have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights in West Michigan. According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, areas as far south as Pennsylvania and Oregon could see them.

Unfortunately, pesky clouds are in the forecast for Friday night and Saturday morning. This will greatly decrease our chance of seeing any activity from the Northern Lights. 

Clearer skies are expected for Saturday night into Sunday morning. There is a G2, or moderate, geomagnetic storm watch in effect for that time frame. This would give us a smaller chance of seeing anything, but it is still a chance.

Forecasting space weather is a difficult science and the Space Weather Prediction Center will likely release updates through the weekend.

If skies do clear in your area and you want to test your luck, get away from city lights and look to the north. If you catch a photo of the lights, you can send it to ReportIt@woodtv.com.

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