The northern lights might be flashing across the sky tonight, but don’t get your hopes up about seeing it from Puget Sound, unless you stay up late.
On Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service in Seattle said an aurora borealis was happening, but that it is not visible during the day due to the sun.
While the solar storm is expected to last until Thursday afternoon, NWS Meteorologist Mary Butwin said whether Seattleites will catch a glimpse will depend on cloud coverage.
“Generally, it’s not impossible to see it in Western Washington. It’s just very hard with our weather and latitude,” she said.
Near Puget Sound, the warm water and cooler air tend to condense and produce low-level clouds and fog during the evening, she said. Additionally, during this time of year, onshore winds also carry moisture from the ocean, which does not always make for clear nights, Butwin said.
Hopeful viewers living closer to the Cascades, Bellingham or north of Everett might have better luck, she said. Cameras may also be better at picking up the northern lights, Butwin said.
The Puget Sound area will become clearer after midnight with the clearest window after 2 a.m., according to NWS, advising viewers to look north and low on the horizon.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the northern lights occur when energized electrons from a high-speed solar winds collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. Energy is transferred to the atmosphere exciting atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When those atoms and molecules return to lower energy states, that energy is released in the form of light, according to NOAA.
To say it simply: It’s very cool to see — if you’re lucky.