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Alaska Cloud Outlook: March 14-20

The current solar wind projection lines up fairly well with current conditions as it relates to density and wind speed. The Bz has been north (positive) for over a day now. With the elevated Bt and density levels, even with wind speeds a bit lower than anticipated, there is still a chance of decent aurora activity until levels drop. It all hinges on the Bz at this point. Best thing to do for the next day or two is to keep an eye on the Bz. If that starts to drop, our aurora chances increase significantly.

Source: NOAA/SWPC

Current conditions show clouds over the northern and eastern portions of Alaska. The west, southwest, and south-central portions of the state look fairly good right now. The next storm system is moving in just south of the Aleutian Islands and looks to start impacting south-central Alaska early Wednesday (March 16) morning and into the Fairbanks area by mid-morning on Wednesday.

The storm system will stall out Wednesday and into Thursday (March 17), keeping an ample amount of moisture pumping in across much of the state. The Anchorage area could see some breaks late Thursday evening and into early Friday (March 18) morning, perhaps providing some quick glimpses of any aurora activity which may occur. However, clouds return before a possible reprieve Saturday (March 19) night and into Sunday (March 20) morning.

The viewing conditions in Fairbanks do not look much better, with conditions much the same: possible breaks Thursday night into Friday morning, ample cloud coverage through Saturday, and improving conditions late Saturday into Sunday early Sunday morning. The Valdez area looks promising Thursday night into Friday morning and Saturday night into Sunday morning. Otherwise, expect somewhat unsettled and cloudy conditions the rest of the week.

To sum up: Most areas will have excellent viewing conditions Monday and Tuesday (March 15) night with clouds on the rise into Wednesday. A few breaks may provide opportunities for viewing Thursday night into Friday morning with Friday night seeing an increase in cloud cover. The next best viewing opportunity, cloud-wise, looks to be Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

As always, I will provide any updates I can through the week in the comments. If nothing major changes, we’ll stick with what we’ve got above. Happy chasing and let’s hope for more breaks and clear skies than clouds!

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1 Comment

  1. It looks like the clouds from this storm system have developed and creeped much further north on Tuesday than expected. Thus, Tuesday night looks to be a wash for the southern half of Alaska tonight (Tuesday). This, unfortunately, also includes the Fairbanks area. Clouds will be thicker to the south, so there is still a chance for Fairbanks to see some breaks in mid and upper-level clouds, but it’s not looking very promising.

    Indications still look good for breaks Thursday night into Friday morning. However, the Saturday night into Sunday morning forecast looks like it has updated significantly. Saturday looks pretty bleak now due to the moisture being pumped into the region around this storm system. Fairbanks looks to see conditions improve Sunday night into Monday morning while the Anchorage and Valdez areas look to be stuck in cloud cover for the entire weekend.

    To sum up: Tuesday is deteriorating pretty quick and Wednesday looks to be a wash across the southern half of the state. A few breaks possible across all areas Thursday night into Friday morning. Anchorage/Valdez and points south will have very poor seeing conditions through the weekend with Fairbanks and areas north seeing improving conditions on Sunday.

    That forecast deteriorated rather quickly as this storm system continues to develop over the Aleutian Islands. Updates will be posted as necessary here in the comments!

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