Home News Northern Lights Show: Rare Aurora Display Expected Across Ohio This Weekend

Northern Lights Show: Rare Aurora Display Expected Across Ohio This Weekend


Get ready to gaze skyward this weekend as the northern lights may make a rare appearance across Ohio, courtesy of a potent solar storm hurtling towards Earth.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has issued a Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch, rating it at a level G4 out of 5. This alert comes as the center predicts the arrival of at least five coronal mass ejections — powerful bursts of plasma and magnetic fields ejected from the sun — expected to reach Earth around midday today.

The resulting geomagnetic storm could illuminate the skies with the aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights, across the northern half of the United States, reaching as far south as Alabama and Northern California, from Friday through Sunday. Auroras, as described by NASA, manifest as ethereal ribbons of light dancing across Earth’s polar regions. They stem from magnetic storms triggered by solar activity such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections. Charged particles energized by these solar events are propelled away from the Sun by the solar wind. Traveling at speeds of 45 million mph, these particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere, redirected towards the poles by the planet’s magnetic field, ultimately producing the mesmerizing light display, as detailed by Space.com.

During severe geomagnetic storms, these auroras can extend beyond the poles, visible in certain parts of the United States, notes NOAA. According to the National Weather Service forecast, Friday night presents optimal conditions for aurora viewing across Ohio, provided they materialize. Anticipate mostly clear skies tonight over Akron, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

However, Saturday night’s outlook diverges across Ohio. While Akron is forecasted for rain, Columbus anticipates a start with precipitation followed by clearing skies. Conversely, Cincinnati should expect mostly clear conditions.

Sunday night brings a return to predominantly clear skies statewide, offering another opportunity to witness this celestial spectacle.