Geomagnetic Storm Watch issued; northern lights very possible

Potential extent of the northern lights Friday and/or Saturday night.
Well, here we go again folks! The northern lights have a pretty good chance at coming out to play this Friday and Saturday.

The Space Weather Prediction Center has already issued a G1 Geomagnetic Storm Watch and a G2 Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Friday night and early Saturday morning. 

The last time we saw a geomagnetic storm of this magnitude the northern lights made their way into Minnesota, Wisconsin, Upper and Lower Michigan, and even parts of Iowa and northern Illinois. 

A zoomed in look at the potential extent of the northern lights Friday and/or Saturday night.
The forecasted uptick in geomagnetic activity is, "due to an increasingly disturbed solar wind field associated with effects of a positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS)." In other words, charged particles from the Sun are expected to interact with Earth's magnetosphere at an elevated speed. 

As a result, the northern lights are going to likely become visible across the northern tier of the United States and Canada. 

This includes parts of the following states:

Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.

Clouds and even precipitation are going to hinder viewing conditions for many locations throughout the Great Lakes area. Stay tuned to the weather forecast closely.
As is always the case with northern lights viewing, Mother Nature and the moon's phase need to be taken into account.

Fortunately, the moon will be non-existent as it's set to be in its "new" phase.

On the flip side, Mother Nature will likely not cooperate for many across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. Both Friday night and Saturday night will feature extensive cloud cover somewhere across the region.

Potential cloud cover and rain Friday night.
There will also be areas of rain and even thunderstorms for parts of Illinois, Indiana and Lower Michigan Friday night. That will throw a wrench into viewing the northern lights for those states if the current forecast holds.

Potential cloud cover and precipitation Saturday night.
Saturday night doesn't look overly great either as of Wednesday evening.

As always, the forecast will change. And even very subtle changes will make all the difference if you hope to catch a glimpse of the aurora this weekend. 

Something else to keep in mind when attempting to see the lights is they are oftentimes difficult to forecast. 

It's hard to call any northern lights forecast a "home run" even if everything looks perfect. While this weekend's chances (especially Friday night) are pretty good based on the data and forecast, it's still not a guarantee. 

Check with the following sites to keep up with the latest:

Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)

University of Alaska -- Fairbanks

Service Aurora

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