Here we go again!
Below is a live map with the most accurate aurora borealis forecast for Portland, Oregon, and Washington tonight. Showing you where you can see the Northern Lights here in Oregon or Washington tonight based on the current live KP-Index of the solar storm approaching earth.
Do not fall for local media clickbait headlines. This article will tell you if you can see the Northern Lights tonight in the Pacific North West or not. The sad truth is that they lie for clicks and shares so you will likely not see them tonight or ever in your life where you live. But the true answer can be found here with the explanation and very interesting live aurora activity links straight from NOAA.gov. NOAA is the abbreviation for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. You can be assured this is accurate and trustworthy information from a government organization.
You’ll see from the map below(provided by NOAA), we need a KP-Index of at least 7 here in Portland to even begin to get a chance to see the Aurora Borealis.
That is a geomagnetic storm of G3 or G4.
However, it is more likely that we would need a Kp Index 9(the red line).
Most people are unaware that you can buy a nice computerized telescope right from Amazon to Star Gaze[ad].
Needed KP-Index Chart
- Yellow Line = KP-Index 7
- Red Line = KP-Index 9
- See actual current KP-Index in next section of the article.
KP-Index Required to See Northern Lights Map.
Courtesy of NOAA(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Actual Current Live KP-Index from NOAA.gov
This is a live Planetary K Index chart straight from NOAA.gov. So if this is in the red and we’re at a high of 7+, we may get to see the Northern Lights here in Oregon or Washington state. Only if it is night time here in the Pacific North West. A KP of 9 during the day is not going to be of any good to this side of the planet.
This next chart is an offcial KP-Index chart from German Research Centre for Geosciences which is essentially the same information in a different layout.
But as mentioned, we would probably need a 9 to see it with our naked eyes. This is so extremely rare. The media may have told you today, that you can see the northern lights tonight, but they only did so in hopes of article shares for advertising revenue. By now you should know that you can’t trust them. You are not in their best interest and for them, telling you a lie to earn revenue is the standard.
I’ve gone out on a Kp 8 twice and not seen the lights. It only means we have a “chance”. I think it would take a 9 or higher to really see them, but we’ll find out soon enough. If you’ve seen them here in our state, please comment with your experiences below!
Yes, I am aware that if a photographer goes out with an expensive camera set up and does a 30-minute exposure photo, it will show faint what appears to be northern lights. But that does not equate to you being able to see them as all the local clickbait headlines read.
True United States Aurora Borealis Forecast
And of course, there is always the aurora forecast straight from NOAA. They can help you figure it out.
NOAA Forecast – Slow loading animation but the best forecast option.
Alaska.edu Forecast – You may need to hit next a few days for a full forecast.
The following image is the “latest” capture of the current aurora from NOAA. For the full animation click the forecast.
Best conditions for seeing the Northern Lights in Oregon or Washington
Well, as you now know, we have to have a KP-Index of at least 7, preferably up to 9.
But even then you need to hope for perfect moon conditions(current moon phase) and you must get away from city lights.
This map shows you all the light pollution across the world. It’s immaculate. But with this map, you can seek out places here in our state to view the Northern Lights. We’re lucky here in Oregon because you don’t have to drive far in any direction to get optimal viewing conditions.
What causes the Aurora Borealis?
The sun does with its beautiful Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections.
Also, if you follow Suspicious Observers on Youtube, you will know way ahead of time if we get a large Coronal Mass Ejection or Solar Flare off the Earth-facing sun. When they come at us, is when we can expect magnetic storms that produce the Aurora Borealis. I watch his solar weather report every morning. You should too.
This article exists to teach you how to check if there will be Northern Lights tonight for yourself. I got tired of seeing local media affiliates spin false articles every time there is a minor solar flare. They only do it because they know uneducated, uninformed people will quickly share links without doing any research on their own. All anyone ever does is read the headline and reposts without understanding the science behind the Northern Lights and required solar weather. You are now prepared and know how to check this on your own(you could just come back here). No more false alarms!
If you’re into this kind of stuff, you may love my Best Oregon Weather Sources article.
Please share this article and inform others.
Photo by Gary Randall Photographic Art
A few Bonus Solar Weather Maps
In this image, Earth is the green dot and the sun is in the middle as the yellow dot. You can see any solar plasma ejections and their path and velocity. It takes a pretty rough hit from the sun for us to get the Northern Lights at lower longitudes.
Current Sun Solar Flares
Lasco C3 | Animated | Lasco C2 | SOHO SDO
Two very cool satellites observing the sun’s current conditions. The disc in the middle is because they can not stare directly at the sun due to overexposure.
Literally an amazing sight to see tonight at around 10:30ish my husband and I were getting out for some fresh air and right before my eyes four pink hueish blinks shaped in square formation lit up the stargazing sky here in Dallas, Oregon on April 18th. Anyone else see?
Sept 1, 2020 (10:05pm),
In Waldport, Oregon and thought there may be faint, light blue auroras (not sure) so was checking the borealis forecast online. Seen them in Alaska when I lived up there and thought these looked like the early signs.
Looks like a great website for other enthusiasts to share!
I just saw them tonight in South Beach, Oregon at about 4:30 a.m. blue turquoise streaks across the sky with a little green. I tried to take a picture but my camera failed. I can tell you it was a beautiful sight, something I’ve never seen here.
Margaret Paine says
I saw them in Florence, Oregon in the 1990s. We were living in a two story rental with large windows on 4 th st. Was lovely. I wanted my kids to see but they were gone soon.
Hi I’m pretty sure I saw off in the distance the Aurora Borealis up here on the hill at home in Southern Oregon not near to the city light last night around 10:30ish. PS I do have two pictures of it.
Patti Grantham says
Driving towards Madras on Nov. 28, 2019 there was a pinkish glow hovering just above the cloud line! The temps were in the teens and the sunset had been complete for about an hour. I can not say exact time, but it was around 6:30 and I felt very strongly that I was seeing the northern lights, but I realize that the sunsets last a very long time in this area, so it could have been the tail end of the sun setting. It was amazing! I tried to get a picture, but we were driving in very icy conditions and getting to our shut down for the night was the prime objective, so the picture is a pink blur. I lived in Alaska many years ago and experienced the blue and green and gold northern lights, but I did not remember pink or reddish hues!
At the beginning of Sept (just a few short weeks ago), I was driving north on I-5 from Salem to Portland, after dropping off my son’s car for maintenance. During our drive home at about 7pm or so, I noticed in the distance, northeasterly direction in the sky, these green looking clouds. Typical sunsets appear orange, pink and purple, and these were unusually green cloud-like colors. After studying them for about a half a minute there was no evidence of any sunset in the sky. I was going to call my husband who was following me home. No sooner than I was thinking of calling him to tell him what I knew I was seeing, my phone rings and it was him, saying exactly what I thought we were seeing, a glimpse of the aurora borealis.
Right after sunset tonight I knew I was seeing them. I saw them on my birthday 20 years ago in September. My husband said I was grasping at straws but I knew what I was seeing. I’m so happy to find that I was correct hope we get to see more northern lights.
Temika Dilley says
Hi there, great post! Do you have any thoughts about the California earthquakes recently? I’m going down to San Fransisco soon and I’m kind of worried! I think this is something you can answer. :)
I would not worry at all. Here’s an article regarding earthquakes and preparedness. Check the comments, you’ll see my recent earthquake experience.
Hello there, I’m from Northern California an hour north of San Francisco, and contrary to what a lot of people think we don’t have huge earthquakes, all the time, so go and enjoy yourself, there are a lot of things to do and see. I hope you have a great time, dress in layers because the weather can be a bit bipolar at times.
Natanya Hernandez says
We were throwing an outdoor concert in Terrebonne, Or in 2019. Most amazing sight of my life. It was cold and full of colors. The lights were pulsating to the music.
Tracy z says
I’m so glad to find this site! We saw flashes in the sky before and thought we were loosing it. Tonight I see the flashes going on right now. I’m in the Columbia gorge on the Washington side across from the Dalles, Oregon. I just checked with my son in Redmond, Oregon and he can see it too. So glad to have an answer. I wish the clouds were less so we could see the color.
I will never forget the one and only time I saw the northern lights. It was May 28, 2017 I believe and I was laying in the bed of my truck out side of Redmond, Oregon at 1am in the morning and all of these colors started dancing across the sky. I was shocked and amazed. Now I need to see them again, so I have to start paying attention to forecast info… watching the sky is my favorite thing! I just started getting the northern lights tattooed on my arm…
I was driving on Oregon’s I-5 towards Portland last night (January 10th 2018) and I saw dark red mixed with grey skies. It was probably about 6:20 PM. It was amazing, because I’ve seen the Northern Lights before in Alaska, so it was incredible to see just a hint of it in my native Oregon state.
I have seen the Northern Lights a few times in Michigan when I lived there, but this time I saw them in a unusual way.
I live in Pendleton, Oregon and I went out to the dam to let my dogs swim. There were mass clouds, very pretty clouds, like thousands of balls attached together, and the sun was just going down. While I took my phone camera and faced it towards the sunset and clouds, while looking at my phone as I was snapping the picture, there was a steady stream of beautiful colors of light coming from under the clouds, shooting towards me. I only found out later the next day that I was seeing the Northern Lights. I could not see them with the naked eye but my camera could see them and I could watch them like that. It was amazing. If it had been dark out I would probably never have seen them. My camera did capture the lights. Way way cool. So don’t just look with your eye’s, try your camera, and it was before it got dark.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that it is not possible to see the northern lights during the day.
If anyone can prove otherwise, please do.
This sounds like Alpenglow, where the last rays of light during sunset bend to hit things (usually a mountain) causing great streams of flowing color in the pinks and oranges range.
I saw the Northern Lights once in Ohio. How beautiful! You can hear tingling, it was real dark out I wanted to knock on everybodys door come out and watch.
I recently came across a beautiful Photo of the Aurora Borealis Northern lights Mt Hood Oregon had a green cast over the Mountain area, was beautiful but the shipping was $38 from California for the size I wanted so I’ve been trying to locate the photograph elsewhere and no luck . The photo is with Gigi Ebert I want a 60″x43″ for living room wall. Can you help me?
I grew up where I had a view of Mt Hood in Oregon and have seen beautiful photos of Mt Hood for years. I now live in Arizona and they have beautiful sunsets here but nothing is more beautiful than Mt Hood Oregon.
One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen…