(WKBN / WJW) – The northern lights are possible tonight as a G3 (Strong) geomagnetic storm watch has been issued.

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, will possibly be visible low on the horizon in Northeast Ohio Wednesday night into early Thursday morning.

The best viewing will be after 11 p.m.

Geomagnetic storm watches are in effect for August 17th – 18th.

What is a G3 Geomagnetic Storm?

According to NOAA, a geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth.

The storms are created from changes and variations within the solar wind. This can cause a disruption in the Earth’s magnetosphere. The entire process is transferring energy from the solar wind into the Earth’s magnetosphere.

These storms can cause voltage problems with power systems. Spacecraft operations can be impacted. Radio and satellite systems can be impacted, too.

NOAA Space Weather uses a scale to communicate to the general public the current and future space weather conditions. These scales will indicate the possible effects of the storm.

The NOAA Space Weather Scale showing storm classifications.

The Space Weather Prediction Center states that geomagnetic storm watches are in effect for 17-19 August, 2022 due to likely a recurrent coronal hole, high speed stream and coronal mass ejections.

The Space Weather Center also states that a recurrent coronal hole (CH) high speed stream (HSS) is anticipated to connect with Earth first, on August 17th. The resultant elevated and disturbed solar wind field is thought to be enough for potential G1 (Minor) geomagnetic storm conditions. Geomagnetic responses are likely to escalate to G3 (Strong) conditions on August 18 due to the arrival at or near Earth of multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that have departed the Sun since August 14. Despite the numerous CMEs, most are expected to have little to no impact on Earth, however, at least four have potential Earth-directed components.

When can I see the northern lights?

If the weather permits, you may catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights into the early morning hours of August 18.

The best time looks to be from around 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Slide the slider below to show the forecast through the peak hours tonight.

The images above are a 30 minute forecast showing location of the intensity of the aurora. These images are from the Space Weather Prediction Center (NOAA).  The best time to catch a glimpse of the aurora tonight(8/17/2022) in our location is from around 10 p.m. through 3 a.m.

How far south can I catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights?

The northern lights will shift depending on the storm size and magnitude. The higher the “G” and “Kp” number, the lower in latitude the auroras can be viewed.

The current storm for August 18, 2022, is forecast to be a G3 / Kp = 7. This would give Northern Ohio and Northern Pennsylvania a chance to see the aurora borealis.

This map shows the average equatorward boundary of the midnight aurora is shown for levels of magnetic activity ranging from relatively low, Kp=3, to very high, Kp=9. Image is from the Space Weather Prediction Center (NOAA).