GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A geomagnetic storm is expected to bring a chance to see the northern lights to Michigan, but clouds may block the show.


Space weather forecasts are not nearly as accurate as weather forecasts. Still, science usually can give a good indication as to the strength of a solar event and the approximate time it should impact Earth’s surface. When it comes to estimating the southern extent of the Northern Lights, it is best to look at the foretasted KP Index. Typically a solar event with a KP Index of 5 is visible in the Upper Peninsula. A KP Index of 7 is usually strong enough for many in West Michigan away from city lights to see at least a glow in the sky.

Below is a look at how far south the northern lights are usually visible depending on the KP Index. For details on how to find Aurora forecasts, check out this edition of Ask Ellen.


A solar event is expected to launch the KP Index to at least 5 on Wednesday with the best conditions for an aurora formation currently forecast for late Wednesday night (midnight Thursday).

While this should be strong enough for West Michigan to see the northern lights, clouds look to block the view at times. An unsettled pattern will bring chances of rain through the state Tuesday through Thursday. While there should be gaps in the clouds at times, it appears it will be difficult to have a clear view. Below is the likelihood of seeing the aurora on the horizon, combined with futurecast cloud cover:

Currently, the best chance of seeing the northern lights will be after midnight Thursday when a cloud bank should be slowly departing across the state.

For the best chance to see the northern lights, head somewhere away from city lights and look to the north. Stay tuned with the latest Storm Team 8 forecast to be sure to have the best chance at cloud breaks.