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Last year, northern lights best seen from northeastern Great Falls

Posted at 12:47 PM, Mar 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-23 14:47:30-04

GREAT FALLS – A geomagnetic storm late Saturday night will give residents of the Northern United States and Canada an opportunity to see the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis.

The last time the northern lights made an appearance in Great Falls was in April 2018. A viewer by the name of Sean Batson shared the above video with KRTV on April 20 around 3 a.m. from northeastern Great Falls.

The National Weather Service (NWS) notes that “in order to know whether you have a chance of seeing an aurora, you need to know the level of geomagnetic activity at the time you are viewing.”

The possibility of actually seeing the northern lights also increases with a town or city’s latitude. Great Falls notably sits at a magnetic latitude of 54.9.

While the northern lights are typically only seen at magnetic latitudes of around 67, NWS explains “[w]hen geomagnetic activity is very high, the aurora may be seen at mid and low latitude locations around the earth that would otherwise rarely experience the polar lights.”

NWS encourages weather watchers to check its “aurora forecast” when awaiting a viewing opportunity. The forecast updates regularly and can be found here.

MTN News and STORMTracker Weather will provide updates on the chance of seeing the northern lights in Great Falls and Montana as they become available.

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