Auroras forecast for tonight April 17; sunlight limits viewing

via NOAA Space Weather: Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (17 Apr), quiet to
active levels on day two (18 Apr) and unsettled to active levels on day
three (19 Apr).

Auroras expected tonight April 17 and for the next 3 nights. Minor storm levels would be Kp 5, and the aurora activity could fluctuate over the next few nights. Alaska and northern Canada have an excellent chance at viewing the aurora, during the limited hours of darkness we have. Mid to southern Canada and the northern states bordering Canada have a chance at the aurora as well, anytime at night which the activity is Kp 4 or higher.

Last night, we did see auroras at Kp 3 all the way down to Seward, Alaska. The time was about 11pm to 2am with the biggest event at 1250am.

For current Kp levels, check out Ovation or the Planetary K-index over at NOAA. If these charts look good, it is not an indicator to prepare to head out. You should already be in place or about at your viewing destination. Other factors come into play for viewing auroras.

As of this writing at 6pm Alaska time, data is looking poor. Data is predicted to improve as we head into the night. It is dark enough to view auroras close to midnight from Fairbanks, slightly earlier for Anchorage, up until about 330am.

We are approaching the midnight sun months, and this may be the last aurora alert for Alaska til next fall. As we get closer to May, auroras may be seen in the hour or 2 that is gets dark (each night is a different time, but it will be after midnight and before 3am). We do not generally report these. Simply be awake during the dark hours. It is hard for visitors to Alaska to realize this until it is experienced for themselves. The sun will be out longer each day and night, squeezing out the viewing of auroras. The more north you are, the more sunlight. The more south you are, the more darkness at night. For example, Juneau will have a dark sky in the summer longer than Anchorage. Cruise ship passengers do have a small window of darkness to catch the auroras (at Kp level 4 or higher). Fairbanks visitors in the months of May to early August have no chance at seeing auroras (also includes Denali, Nome, and Barrow visitors, sorry!). Anchorage no chance from mid-May to mid-July. The auroras DO NOT go away. They simply cannot be seen because the sunlight washes them out.

Large aurora events that might be seen in the lower 48 and southern Canada will be shared on here during the summer.

It can be confusing and disappointing for you if you were planning on seeing auroras in the summer. Please feel free to contact me with questions. I will be happy to answer your “what if” questions. ~Amy