Watch CBS News

Pittsburghers have a small chance to see the Northern Lights on Thursday morning

KDKA-TV Morning Forecast (8/17)
KDKA-TV Morning Forecast (8/17) 02:41

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The chances are slim, but early Thursday morning, the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, may be visible in Pennsylvania.

Several Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), sometimes called "solar flares" erupted in the Sun's upper atmosphere.  This sends charged particles toward Earth. When these particles interact with our atmosphere, the Northern Lights occur.

Because of these CMEs firing off in succession, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center issued a G3 Geomagnetic Storm Watch.  They say, "Geomagnetic storms can impact infrastructure in near-Earth orbit and on the surface, potentially disrupting communications, the electric power grid, navigation, radio, and satellite operations." 

They will monitor their DSCOVR satellite, as it reads the real-time solar wind information, for signs of the arrival and strength of the CMEs.  If needed, NOAA will issue any appropriate geomagnetic storm warnings.

Minor-Strong Geomagnetic Storm Watches NOAA/NWS

 A geomagnetic storm like this has the potential to drive the aurora further south than normal. If other factors come together with this, the aurora might be seen over portions of Pennsylvania, Iowa, to northern Oregon.  This is certainly something to watch for.

If these auroras are visible, you will want to view them in a dark area with a large view of the north. 

Try to stay away from obstructions.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.