Friday, May 24, 2024

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Vancouver Island could be treated to ‘potentially historic’ display of Northern Lights tonight

Get ready, Vancouver Island!

Meteorologists around the world are warning people to brace for a severe geomagnetic storm late Friday night and into Saturday.

If the forecast of clear skies holds up for Vancouver Island tonight along with the remainder of the weekend—and it is expected to— residents could be treated to a stunning display of Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, as well as across most of Canada.

The NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for the evening of Friday, May 10th. Additional solar eruptions could cause geomagnetic storm conditions to persist through the weekend.

This event ranks as a severe G4 on the scale used to measure the intensity of geomagnetic storms. The scale ranges from G1 (minor) on the low end to G5 (extreme) on the high end.

The SWPC issued a geomagnetic storm watch ahead of the event, saying on Friday that “watches at this level are very rare.” This is the first G4-level watch issued by the agency since January 2005.

The geomagnetic storm could impact satellite and radio communications.

The SWPC expects the geomagnetic storm to peak late Friday night into early Saturday morning, with the strongest aurora potential around 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Pacific Time.

The NOAA’s latest aurora view predictions for Friday night show a strong chance of seeing the Northern Lights across Canada, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and the southern end of Vancouver Island, where the chance is moderate.

Current Aurora Forecast:

(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

To maximize your chances of seeing the aurora on Vancouver Island, follow these tips:

  1. Find a Dark Location: Head away from city lights and artificial sources of light pollution. Look for spots like parks, beaches, or open countryside.
  2. Check the Weather: Ensure the sky is clear or mostly clear for the best view. Cloud cover can obstruct the aurora.
  3. Face North: Auroras are typically visible to the north, so position yourself with a clear view of the northern horizon.
  4. Time Your Viewing: The aurora is most visible late at night, peaking around 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Pacific Time. Plan to be out during this time frame.
  5. Give Your Eyes Time to Adjust: Allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness for at least 20 minutes. This will help you see the aurora more clearly—stay off your phone!
  6. Bring Warm Clothing and Snacks: Being outside late at night can get chilly, so dress warmly and bring some snacks and drinks for comfort.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be better prepared to enjoy the stunning display of the Northern Lights on Vancouver Island.

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