Aurora Watch: Find your sky cover and aurora forecast here

A geomagnetic storm watch is in effect. Expect a mix of clouds and clear pockets across Minnesota tonight.

Coronal Mass Ejection in progress
Coronal Mass Ejection in progress.
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Sky watchers will be on the lookout for northern lights overnight. The sun is blasting out a series of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) that could hit the earth’s atmosphere in the coming days.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm watch. That means conditions are potentially favorable for northern lights across much of the northern U.S. overnight into the wee small hours of Thursday morning.

The aurora watch highlights the potential for weak G1 to strong G3 storm activity. If that G3 magnitude occurs, it could drive the geographic extent of the auroral oval as far south as Iowa overnight.

Geomagnetic storm coverage
Geomagnetic storm coverage.
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

NOAA’s K index spiked to 6 late Wednesday. The Kp-index depicts the disturbance level of Earth's magnetic field caused by the solar wind. The faster the solar wind blows, the greater the turbulence. The index ranges from 0, for low activity, to 9, for intense geomagnetic storms.

KP Index
KP Index.
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center

Sky cover forecast

There will be a fair amount of cloud cover across Minnesota overnight. But there will be breaks in the cloud layers at times. Overall southern Minnesota is likely to have the fewest clouds and best potential aurora viewing.

Before you keep reading ...

MPR News is made by Members. Gifts from individuals fuel the programs that you and your neighbors rely on. Donate today to power news, analysis, and community conversations for all.

NOAA’s NAM 3 km resolution model shows a patchwork of clouds with some breaks in the overcast tonight.

NOAA NAM 3 km model cloud cover output
NOAA NAM 3 km model cloud cover output between 9 pm and 6 am.
NOAA via tropical tidbits

NOAA’s prototype IDSS forecast shows about 50% cloud cover around the greater Twin Cities area in the hours after dusk tonight, with higher coverage later overnight.

Sky cover forecast
Sky cover forecast in percent for the Twin Cities area.

So if you are fortunate enough to get some break in the clouds overnight, keep an eye out for possible northern lights show overnight into Thursday morning. As always the best viewing is away from city lights with dark skies to the north.

Good luck!