northern lights canada

Canada will have best chance to see Northern Lights this weekend in almost 20 years

The U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning of a severe geomagnetic storm that will likely produce aurora activity across Canada but could also impact satellite and radio communications.

The agency issued its alert the morning of May 10, saying a category G4 (severe) or greater solar storm is incoming to the area for the first time since 2005. It's set to primarily impact North America anywhere north of the 45th parallel.

The NOAA's latest aurora view predictions for Friday night show a strong chance of seeing the Northern Lights across Canada, with the exception of the Greater Toronto Area and the southern end of Vancouver Island, where the chance is moderate.

northern lights canadaPeople living in the U.S. could see aurora too, with the NOAA saying people as far south as Alabama or Northern California might spot it.

Sadly, not everyone is in for a clear night to see the aurora. Showers are in the forecast in Toronto, Winnipeg and Edmonton, but Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria should have clear skies.

In addition to providing some stunning night sky views, the geomagnetic storm could also interrupt communication and electrical infrastructure.

The NOAA warns that solar activity could induce electrical currents, which might cause "widespread voltage control problems" and cause parts of power grids to trip out.

The solar activity could also charge the metal surfaces of satellites orbiting Earth, causing tracking and orientation problems. GPS services may be degraded over the weekend, NOAA said.

High frequency radio waves could also be impacted, with the effects more pronounced in polar zones.

The Canadian Space Agency and the Vancouver-based HR MacMillan Space Centre have yet to reply to a request for more details.

Lead photo by

NOAA | lemaret pierrick/Shutterstock

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