It’s not too common that we get to see the Aurora Borealis, aka the northern lights, in Seattle—especially in the city proper with all the light pollution. But we’ll have a chance this week starting from around Tuesday night and running through Thursday as a geomagnetic storm winds its way toward us.
Generally, the closer to a pole you are, the more likely you are to see the northern lights. And as cities in the continental U.S. go, we’re closer than many, just not as close as Alaska or even the San Juan Islands. But elevated solar wind speed is putting us in range for the next few days.
Want a shot at seeing it? It’s hard to predict exactly when it could be visible—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a 30-minute aurora forecast—so it’s hard to say when the cloud cover will allow for a view.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has a cloud cover forecast tool that could be helpful in deciding when to take a look. just change the drop down to “sky cover” and move the slider.
Some times are going to be a better shot than others, too. Somewhere with fewer city lights is better. NWS’s Seattle chapter suggests looking after midnight.
For what it’s worth, the current forecast calls for about a 25 percent cloud cover over Seattle tonight (Tuesday) at midnight and 44 tomorrow night—so those hoping for a look may want to get out there as soon as possible.