Northern lights could be visible in Wisconsin tonight, but it's expected to be cloudy

Wisconsin is within the aurora viewline for places most likely to see the northern lights on Friday night, however those chances are slimming due to the evening's forecast.

Aurora viewline for northern lights on May 10
Aurora viewline for northern lights on May 10

The Space Weather Prediction Center has forecast a possible geomagnetic storm beginning Friday and lasting until the early morning hours of Saturday morning. A handful of states in the northern U.S. could see the northern lights during that span.

The phenomena would be the result of the same cluster of sunspots responsible for the nationwide May 10 aurora display, as they have rotated back in view of the Earth. But this time the storm is weaker, given an intensity level of 2 out of 5.

The moderate storm is the result of a coronal mass ejection, or, "huge bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun over the course of several hours," according to NASA. The ejection is the result of a solar flare on May 29.

A photo of the northern lights taken in West Bend on March, 23 2023 by a member of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society.
A photo of the northern lights taken in West Bend on March, 23 2023 by a member of the Milwaukee Astronomical Society.

Friday's lights should be observable between 11 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, though they can be seen up until about 3 a.m., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, the state is expected to have cloud coverage Friday night, especially up north, where the chances of witnessing the northern lights is higher.

The overnight forecast in northwestern Wisconsin is cloudy and rainy, according to Marcia Cronce, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "The northwest part of the state is not as good for viewing any northern lights," she said.

While southern Wisconsin, and east through Door County, will have thin cloud coverage that will develop, but the region is expected to stay dry, Cronce said.

USA Today contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Northern lights could be visible in Wisconsin tonight, Friday, May 31