Inbound solar storm means northern lights possible Saturday night

Cloudy north, but southern Minnesota may have a view.

Coronal Mass Ejection
Coronal Mass Ejection.

Keep an eye on the northern sky Saturday evening.

A solar storm is hurling energy toward the earth this weekend. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm watch.

Geomagnetic storm watch
Geomagnetic storm watch.
NOAA Space Weather Center


published: Friday, October 29, 2021 17:43 UTC

A G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm Watch is in effect for 30 – 31 October, 2021, following a significant solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the sun that occurred around 11:35 a.m. EDT on Oct. 28. Analysis indicated the CME departed the Sun at a speed of 973 km/s and is forecast to arrive at Earth on 30 October, with effects likely continuing into 31 October.

When the CME approaches Earth, NOAA’s DSCOVR satellite will be among the first spacecraft to detect the real time solar wind changes and SWPC forecasters will issue any appropriate warnings.

Impacts to our technology from a G3 storm are generally nominal. However, 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 the far Northeast, to the upper Midwest, and over the state of Washington.

For additional information about space weathergeomagnetic stormsaurora and viewing tips, and CMEs – click the terms. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center is the official source for space weather forecasts, watches, warnings and alerts. Visit for updates. Learn about Solar Cycle 25.

NOAA expects the wave to arrive Saturday night. That could trigger waves of northern lights across the Upper Midwest Saturday evening.

The Twin Cities NWS office chimes in on the best areas for viewing Saturday night. An arc of clouds with an approaching cold front may keep much of northern and central Minnesota cloudy Saturday night.

NOAA’s GFS model low cloud output tracks the expected cloud wedge across Minnesota between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday.

NOAA GFS low cloud output
NOAA GFS low cloud output between 7 pm Saturday and 7 am Sunday.
NOAA via tropical tidbits

The best viewing for southern Minnesota may occur early Saturday evening before the clouds arrive, and early Sunday morning before sunrise after the clouds pass in western Minnesota. As always, look low in the northern sky away from city lights if possible.

Good luck!

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