Will Central Virginia see the Northern Lights tonight?

Weather
geomagnetic storm of 2020

People in Central Virginia will not be able to see the Northern Lights Thursday.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The strongest geomagnetic storm of 2020 is expected to occur tonight lasting into early Friday morning.

The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis is an astronomical phenomenon that occurs when a major geomagnetic storm interacts with the charged particles in the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Usually, these are only visible north of the US/Canada border. Most of the time near the North Pole.

Flares from the sun has been strengthening this week meaning the Northern Lights may be visible far south once it gets dark tonight.

The big question is will central Virginians be able to get a glimpse of the dancing Northern Lights.

The answer is no.

People in Central Virginia will not be able to see the Northern Lights during the strongest geomagnetic storm of 2020.

Even though the weather conditions will be perfect, the energy will not be strong enough to make the lights visible in central Virginia. The graphic above shows that the Northern Lights will be visible on the horizon where the line cuts through northern Virginia. The shaded green areas including portions of Montana stretching to northern Maine, the lights will be visible overhead.

Weather forecast for December 10, 2020.

You may get a glimpse of the northern lights if you travel north, away from city lights and the higher in elevation you go the better chance you will have.

Aurora forecasts are based on a geomagnetic measurement called the kp index.

For the Northern Lights to be visible in central Virginia the kp index needs to be between 7 and 9. Unfortunately, central Virginia is not in that range. Anywhere south of the D.C area will not see it.

Aurora map of the world — who will see the Northern Lights?

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