Will NYC see the northern lights Monday night? | Solar storm forecast

Will the NYC area see the northern lights tonight?

The historic geomagnetic storm that blasted Earth and gave millions the opportunity to witness the dazzling display is finally starting to wane.

The sky around the world was filled with brilliant colors of green, pink, purple and red from the northern lights over the weekend after a massive sunspot the width of 17 Earths spewed solar flares, leading to geomagnetic storm activity reaching Level 5 "extreme" conditions.

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Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), also known as aurora, colorful lights shift, illuminate the sky in Rochester. (Photo by Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images)

As the weekend continued, conditions dropped to Level 3 and Level 4 but re-energized and returned to Level 5 conditions on Saturday, prompting NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) to issue a Geomagnetic Storm Watch and eventually a Geomagnetic Storm Warning.

The warning expired early Monday morning as the effects of the geomagnetic storm started to pass and Level 4 "severe" conditions were no longer expected.

What time will the northern lights be visible tonight?

Though not likely, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center suggests that prime viewing times typically fall within an hour or two of midnight, spanning from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Northern lights forecast

According to the National Weather Service, skies will be partly cloudy tonight in NYC.

What is a solar storm?

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm warning when a solar outburst reached Earth on Friday afternoon.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said satellites observed conditions that reached level 5 on their 5-point scale of geomagnetic activity on Friday evening, noted as an "extreme" event and the first such storm to reach that level since October 2003.


Could another 'Carrington Event' solar storm happen?

A potent solar storm prompted the first severe geomagnetic storm watch in nearly two decades in the U.S., dazzling observers with vivid Northern Lights as far south as Florida, while raising concerns about potential disruptions to communication and GPS systems.

The sun produced strong solar flares since Wednesday, resulting in at least seven outbursts of plasma. Each eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection, can contain billions of tons of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona.

This weekend's Level 5 geomagnetic storm was the first to hit Earth since October 2003. That storm knocked out power in Sweden and damaged electrical transformers in South Africa.

Were there disruptions?

While the Northern Lights were no doubt breathtaking to see, the geomagnetic storm did cause some issues.

The SWPC reported that there were reports of power grid irregularities and degradations to high-frequency communications and GPS. No major outages were reported, but the work of farmers across the country appeared to have been significantly affected.

That’s because many rely on GPS for automated guidance when planting, and this time of year is vital for certain crops to get in the ground. 

FOX Weather's Steven Yablonski helped contribute to this report.