Northern lights forecast for DC, MD, VA: Will aurora borealis be visible Friday and Saturday?

Another solar storm hitting Earth this weekend could produce northern lights in parts of the United States. But will the glow of the aurora borealis be visible in the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions?

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1. During a geomagnetic storm, outbursts of plasma from solar flares can occur. Each eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection, can contain billions of tons of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona.

If strong enough, the outbursts can interfere with radio transmissions or cause outages to GPS satellites. Earlier this month, an extremely strong solar storm resulted in NOAA issuing a rare Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch. This weekend, the agency issued a (G2) Geomagnetic Storm Watch which is less severe and not uncommon.

READ MORE: Northern lights could return to US with another geomagnetic storm


Aurora Viewline Friday, May 31, 2024 (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

NOAA says the solar flare could make for great aurora viewing over some northern and upper Midwest states from New York to Idaho. Unfortunately, aurora viewing is not expected in the DMV region.

A look at their aurora forecast page shows the ‘viewline,’ a line marking the southernmost locations from which you may see the aurora on the northern horizon, running east and west across parts of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It crosses Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington state. 

The best time to observe auroras is just after sunset or just before sunrise.


Aurora Viewline Saturday, June 01, 2024 (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)