WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Auroras possible but not likely visible in NC

Posted January 4, 2016

Aurora as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: NASA/JSC)

You may have seen mention on social media that we could see auroras in the night sky on Sunday or Monday of this week. Looking into it a bit, this doesn't appear likely.

Charged particles ejected from the sun a few days ago appear on track to arrive in the vicinity of Earth on Monday or Tuesday and could trigger a geomagnetic storm that favors increased aurora activity. However, this appears to be one that would principally be visible at more northerly latitudes than ours.

A couple of good sources for double-checking information about potential auroras that you might hear about include the Space Weather web site and an aurora forecast page operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

On the forecast site, you'll find maps that show a wide band indicating the locations where auroras will have a good chance of being seen high in the sky and a narrower green line farther south that indicates roughly the location where the aurora might just be visible low on the horizon.

For the next few nights, that line is shown to be quite a ways north of our state, making any sighting from here appear to be be unlikely.

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  • Hari Nootsak Jan 4, 2016
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    Wife saw low latitude auroras in October of 2003 in mountains of Virginia. They were very low on north horizon (which she had a clear vista of) and were just a reddish glow, not the standard green dancing type.