PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Time to get excited here in northern Oregon! We may have another chance to catch the beautiful northern lights in the coming days.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has a geomagnetic storm watch forecast in effect from Aug. 17-19, 2022. This may mean those beautiful colors of the aurora may come far enough south to see locally. From time to time we do have the opportunity to see these northern lights in northern Oregon.

However, seldom does the forecast results pan out in the night sky. You will have to commit some time to getting outside of the city and up to a position that may be visible.

What’s different with this event? The space weather prediction center says, “a G3 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal polar residence, and if other factors come together, the aurora might be seen over portions of Pennsylvania, Iowa, to northern Oregon”.

Learn more about what is the root cause of this storm in the graphic below.


Your best chance to see these will be late Wednesday night into Thursday with the greatest chance closer to 3 a.m. to be seen in the low horizon.

Unfortunately, there will be some clouds around the region, especially east of I-5. Finding a spot that is free of visual obstacles and open to the sky west of downtown will likely be better for viewing. Clearing is also expected east of The Dalles in the lower Columbia basin. 

According to the space weather prediction center, Thursday night into Friday may also provide a viewing opportunity for northern Oregon and Washington. 

The aurora in Oregon isn’t usually visible from the naked eye. Jim Todd of OMSI says, “[your] best bet is to take a digital camera (DSLR or advanced smartphones) on a tripod and take 3 to 5 second exposures towards the northern horizon. If the picture shows some shades of green to red curtain-like images, chances are the auroras are active. Sometimes the aurora’s low and faint above the northern horizon.”

You can learn more about the process of how an aurora forms in the graphic below. Follow the graphic from left to right and you can follow the path of the particles that enter the earth and help create this stunning visual experience.

Enjoy the show friends!