Aurora expected as far south as Lower 48, but Alaska might take a back seat

It's that time of year again when darkness returns to Alaska's night skies, bringing with it the opportunity to see the northern lights.

We're off to a strong start as a geomagnetic storm that started Wednesday continues for the next two nights and is forecast to bring the aurora borealis to the contiguous U.S.

But people in the Lower 48 may need to enjoy the northern lights on the behalf of Alaskans. In much of the state, a cloudy weather forecast threatens to obstruct the view.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center posted a notice about the geomagnetic storm forecast to continue through Sept. 9.

Auroras are likely as far south as Washington, Michigan and Maine, NOAA says.

[How to photograph the northern lights]

Meanwhile the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute says the aurora forecast is "active" for Thursday and Friday nights.

Even with a mostly full moon, the aurora will be visible, according to Travis Rector, University of Alaska Anchorage astronomer. says that the strongest solar flare in a decade is being recorded. (Solar flares produce coronal mass ejections, which travel to Earth and create the aurora as they interact with the planet's atmosphere.)

NOAA also has a 30-minute forecast for the most up-to-date information.

So, to our contiguous U.S. counterparts, take pictures, OK?

Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.