After largely missing the last display of auroras because of cloud cover, this weekend could present another opportunity for parts of WNY. A “sun burp” on Thursday is expected to arrive sometime this weekend, kicking off what models suggest would be a G2 level geomagnetic storm.
Like hurricanes & tornadoes, we rate geomagnetic storms on a sliding scale. The bigger the number (1-5), the more intense and likely auroras become locally. With a current projection of G2, faint auroras would be visible low on the northern horizon. These would be difficult to see with the naked eye but color can be readily brought out using a camera with a longer exposure.
It is important to note, these forecasts are notoriously difficult to nail down. Models are tracking energy that has to travel from the Sun to Earth, of which slight deviations in timing & magnitude often make a huge difference in outcome. As such, many forecast like this are complete duds. Other times, the energy is stronger and we get an upside surprise. There is no telling exactly when this energy will strike Earth. Best estimates suggest late Saturday into Saturday night being our best opportunity. The cloud cover situation won’t be ideal but should present at least some breaks in the overcast if you’re patient.
We’ll keep tabs on updates as they come. You can follow me on X (formerly Twitter) for updates & visual confirmation as I’ll be out on the lake with a camera this weekend. Fingers crossed!