Helping share the love of the northern lights!

Month: February 2022

Wonderful Chase Feb 26/27!

We had an amazing night across the Anchorage area on Saturday night (Feb 26) and into Sunday (Feb 27) morning! There was no real plan to chase on Saturday evening, as cloud projections showed the area in thick cover. However, one member of the lights group indicated clouds would break near the river around 10pm. Sure enough, satellite data showed clouds starting to break up and drier conditions moving into the region. Additionally, the hemispheric power index (HPI) increased from 15 GW to 25 GW from 9pm to 10pm. With that in mind, the decision was made to hit the road!

Ronnie, Ed, and Crystal
Ronnie, Beth, Chris, Ed, and Crystal

We arrived on location around 10:30pm and began to set up. Shortly afterwards, we noticed a significant glow in the sky and the white mountains in front of us began to shine in the night, almost as if the moon were starting to rise. We took some photos overhead and verified the leading edge of the arc was, in fact, directly overhead. To say we got a little excited was an understatement!

The lights came in several waves throughout the night. The HPI shot up to 54 GW early on in the evening, before tailing off to the 40s and 30s over the next couple of hours. The interesting thing about the night was the Bz stayed relatively north all night, with just a few dips south. However, the constant fluctuations of Bz gave us nearly continuous aurora displays from around 11pm until we closed down the chase around 4am. It was a great night to be out and was the best chase I’ve been on since last March. I hope to see a few more of these before we lose darkness in the next 45 days or so!

See more photos in the SmugMug photo gallery!

Alaska Cloud Outlook: Feb 28-Mar 6, 2022

Solar wind density will remain elevated the next day or two (5-10 p/cm3) before it is projected to fall off. Wind speed will also see a steady decline through the week. Aurora activity has been quite unpredictable the past few days, so definitely keep an eye on the solar wind data tonight/tomorrow. See the image below.


The weather pattern for Alaska looks like a roller coaster this next week. Monday (Feb 28) will see some high clouds through the central part of the state and low to mid-level clouds creeping in across the south-central portion. Skies should be somewhat decent for Monday and Tuesday (Mar 1) with low clouds being the main culprit. Breaks in the clouds should provide for occasional views. Cloud cover really starts to increase Wednesday morning (Mar 2) ahead of the next storm system.

The next storm system will bring abundant clouds to the state from the southwest. Fairbanks should enjoy pleasant viewing conditions until early morning on Thursday (Mar 3) with Anchorage seeing breaks in the clouds Thursday evening. The system is projected to push through fairly quickly to the north, so Anchorage will see clouds beginning to clear out Friday (Mar 4) afternoon while Fairbanks will start to see clouds on the rise. As the system pushes in from southwest to north-northeast, expect improving conditions for Anchorage while Fairbanks will see unsettled conditions through the weekend.

The best viewing conditions for Anchorage appear to be Monday (occasional breaks), Tuesday (occasional breaks), Saturday, and Sunday this week, with breaks in the clouds possible late Thursday and into Friday morning. Fairbanks looks to be best Tuesday (occasional breaks), Wednesday, breaks late Friday, and then pretty cloudy conditions the rest of the weekend.

Keep in mind, these forecasts can (and usually do) change for any period outside of the third day. If I notice anything significant change, I’ll post to the comments.

No Luck Chasing: Feb 25-26

We headed out to the Knik River under partly to mostly cloudy skies, the best we’ve seen in a few nights, hoping for some activity. Sadly, nothing happened, other than a faint arc which you can see on the left side of the picture below, just above the mountains.

Data was pretty dismal, to say the least. Bz was bouncing up and down between around +3 and +0.77 all night after 11pm AKST. Bt, density, and wind speed were all low too, so we did not have the highest of hopes from the start. As the Bz began to jump up and down, still north, we noticed the faint arc appear briefly. Nothing spectacular, but the stars were amazing!

No Luck Chasing: Feb 19-21

Mother Nature won out again over our area. The solar wind brought a bit of an uptick in data Friday into Saturday and again Sunday into Monday. However, the few stars we saw in the night sky quickly succumbed to a thick cloud deck ahead of this next storm system expected to give us some snow and rain over the next day or so. Conditions are not looking too great right now for the rest of the week or even the weekend. If you’re in Alaska and interested on my thoughts for this week, you can click here to read them (for subscribed users).

I am hopeful the cloud forecast changes for Feb 25/26, but I am not going to hold my breath on having a good opportunity to go out and chase. This winter has been quite depressing from an aurora watching standpoint. We just cannot seem to catch a break in the southern part of Alaska. Fairbanks, on the other hand, has had quite a season! Perhaps I need to look at heading up that way soon!

Alaska Cloud Outlook: Feb 21-27, 2022

Solar wind speeds are projected to remain elevated over the next week, in the 400-500 km/s range. Density, on the other hand, is projected to diminish. Current projections are off by about 5-8 p/cm3, so take it with a grain of salt at the moment. Just keep an eye on the density. Elevated wind speeds can mean a chance of seeing aurora, but lower densities mean the amount and vibrance of any activity may be low. See the image below.


The weather pattern for Alaska looks to be quite unsettled over the next week, unfortunately. A storm system over the Bering Sea will continue to push to the east over the next couple of days and exit the state on Wednesday (Feb 23). As it does, an area of high pressure (fair weather/clearing skies) will settle in for a short period. It looks like much of the state will see a chance for clearing in the skies from west to east starting early Tuesday (Feb 22).

Anchorage should see some sunshine/breaks in the clouds late in the evening Tuesday and into Wednesday. Wednesday actually looks like a pleasant day for Anchorage with some mid to upper-level clouds possible ahead of the next storm system. Wednesday night looks like a good chance for overall decent aurora viewing conditions in the area.

Fairbanks should see clouds starting to break late afternoon to early evening on Tuesday with conditions looking decent for Tuesday evening and Wednesday looks to be perfect for viewing aurora activity. As with Anchorage, Fairbanks will enjoy a beautiful day on Wednesday with a chance to see some patchy mid to upper-level clouds moving in late Wednesday and into Thursday (Feb 24) morning.

High pressure starts to break down across the area Thursday into Friday (Feb 25) as another storm system moves into Alaska from the south, followed by a second system late Friday and into Saturday (Feb 26). Conditions right now for Thursday through Sunday (Feb 27) look to be quite unsettled with a few breaks in the clouds possible Saturday and Sunday night.

Keep in mind, these forecasts can (and usually do) change for any period outside of the third day. If I notice anything significant change, I’ll post to the comments.

Looking to Chase Feb 19/20!

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a G1 alert for Saturday/Sunday and I am a bit excited! We should see some cleaning here in the Anchorage area over the course of Saturday and into Sunday morning. This is lining up perfectly with the G1 alert coming in and the projections showing a good uptick in density and speeds over that timeline. More to come, I am sure, but get excited if you are in Alaska this weekend…it looks very, very promising!

Planning for Version 7

Version 7 of the app is in the beginning development stages. Work will pick up during the off-season and I plan to release it in late July or early August, prior to the beginning of the next aurora season. One big item in the works, for subscribed members, is the ability to receive alerts for the hemispheric power index (HPI).

The HPI is an excellent indicator of aurora potential, in general. It is not specific to a location like the favorable conditions calculation the app uses. Although it is a general index, many “chasers” watch this value to make a decision on whether or not to go out after dark. Once you know the best value for your area, it is an excellent value to follow. For instance, here in the Anchorage area, an HPI value of 20-25 GW is generally good to see some activity. We have even seen them with values as low as 15, but not reliably. The HPI alert will allow you to choose a value between 10-100 for alerting you of when the app sees the value you want in order to alert you.

Another option I am looking to add to version 7 is the ability to choose the distance of aurora sightings a user would like to be alerted for. The current value is 30 miles, meaning that you would be alerted if anyone within 30 miles of your location reports aurora activity. While this is great in areas where a lot of people use the app, it is not conducive to those in regions without many users. Thus, the plan is to open this up to a longer range and, potentially, to be alerted of all aurora sightings. So, stay tuned to that!

Those are the plans for version 7 as of right now! It will be a great off-season of tweaking and updating to keep Amazing Aurora, well, AMAZING!

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