The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G3 geomagnetic storm watch for Sunday night (2/26/23). This means that the aurora borealis may be visible in all of the northern United States, including Montana. A G2 geomagnetic storm watch has also been issued for Monday night (2/27/23), which means that the aurora borealis may be visible in portions of Montana.
A G2 geomagnetic storm watch corresponds to a Kp value of 6, and a G3 geomagnetic storm watch corresponds to a Kp value of 7. The larger the Kp number is, the stronger the aurora borealis is, and the further south the aurora borealis can be seen.
Cloud cover can inhibit the viewing of the aurora borealis, and in Montana, there is going to be some cloud cover around Sunday night and Monday night.
For Sunday night, the cloud cover is going to diminish as the night goes on in central and north-central Montana, especially once we get past midnight. In western, southern, and eastern Montana, mostly cloudy skies are expected for a lot of Sunday night. This means that central and north-central Montana have the highest chance to see the aurora borealis Sunday night, with the chance increasing as the night goes on (since the skies will become clearer).
For Monday night, we are going to have increasing clouds in eastern Montana; partly to mostly cloudy skies in central Montana; and overcast skies in western Montana. This means eastern Montana has the highest chance to see the aurora borealis, with the chance decreasing as the night goes on (since the skies will become cloudier).
Please know that the aurora borealis is hard to predict, and the geomagnetic storms may end up being stronger or weaker than what is currently forecasted. The timing of the impact of the fast moving charged particles from the sun may also change, which could impact when the best chance to view the aurora borealis is. Point being, there is no guarantee that we will see the aurora borealis in Montana Sunday night or Monday night, but as of right now, we do have a really good chance to see it. Fingers crossed!
In order to get the best viewing, make sure you are as far away from city lights as possible. Also, make sure you are looking towards the north.
Two good resources for knowing when the Aurora Borealis might be visible in our area are the Space Weather Prediction Center and Soft Serve News.
Jim Thomas, the operator of Soft Serve News, posts frequent updates to let people know how likely it is that the Northern Lights may be visible.
If you happen to take any pictures of the aurora borealis, feel free to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org, or upload them by clicking here.