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Some Chance of Aurora Borealis Above Oregon, the Coast Sunday, Monday

Published 07/15/2017 at 6:43 PM PDT - Updated 07/15/2017 at 7:11 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Some Chance of Aurora Borealis Above Oregon, the Coast Sunday, Monday

(Oregon Coast) – A different kind of storm watch has been issued for the skies above Oregon and the Oregon coast: a geomagnetic storm watch. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued that for the northern latitudes of Earth for July 16 and 17, which could mean some glimpses of the Aurora Borealis in this area on Sunday and Monday night.

Chances are better to spot the northern lights in northeastern Oregon, but the northwestern portion of the state has a chance as well. Portland and the valley areas have clear nighttime forecasts, while the north Oregon coast is looking a bit cloudy on those nights – but with plenty of breaks.

Find a dark area free of city lights and start looking around midnight.

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI, said this comes from a massive solar flare on Friday morning. Storms could be category G2 for both days, which is moderately strong.

Still, it's literally a shot in the dark as to whether Oregon and its coastline will glimpse any of this.

“It all depends on the timing,” Todd said. “How strong the KP is and when it arrives.”

KP is the measurement index of a geomagnetic storm. Todd said some of the strongest portions could be hitting the Earth during the day and then the smaller amounts at night, leaving watchers – well, in the dark. Todd said some of this space weather starts hitting Sunday afternoon.

Scientists around the world a bit abuzz about this solar flare on Friday. It came from sunspot AR2665, which erupted in a powerful and long-lasting M2-class solar flare. It lasted for more than two hours, battering the upper layers of the Earth with sustained and powerful X-rays and energetic protons. This onslaught from space even affected radio communications around the north pole regions and parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Forecasts around the Pacific Northwest are mostly clear for both those nights, although the Oregon coast is predicted to have fairly cloudy skies. Some of the better spots to look for this will likely be in the coast range mountains, especially on Highway 26 near the summits. See Oregon Coast Weather.

If you try from the Oregon coast, stick to areas north of Tillamook, such as Manzanita, Cannon Beach or Warrenton. One really good spot to plant your camera gear would be the gravel pullout just north of the Neahkahnie Overlooks, which looks towards Short Beach and Cape Falcon. The beaches north of Gearhart may also yield better results as there are little to no light interference issues there. Where to stay for this - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour

Below: photos of the Aurora from the coast range and the Oregon coast, as well as some of the spots listed:





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