Cupid might strike the Lower Mainland with a greenish glow ahead of the Hallmark holiday this week.
The Metro Vancouver weather forecast includes clearing skies overnight on Tuesday, Feb. 13 and there is a strong possibility locals could see the aurora borealis.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Space Weather Prediction Center says several coronal mass ejections (CME) have arrived in the Earth's atmosphere over the past few days. CMEs are eruptions of solar material that can result in increased geomagnetic activity.
A minor to moderate geomagnetic storm (G1 or G2) watch has been issued for Monday through Wednesday, and the "northern lights may become visible over some northern and upper midwest states from New York to Idaho," according to the space centre.
On Tuesday, the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) calls for very "high activity" with auroral displays possible "overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Iqaluit to Vancouver, Helena, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bay City, Toronto, Montpelier, and Charlottetown," and also "visible low on the horizon from Salem, Boise, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Indianapolis and Annapolis."
The university's online aurora monitor map shows what regions the aurora's green glow will likely reach, as well as other areas where there is less of a possibility. Additionally, there is a brief description below the map of the aurora activity on that particular day. You can switch to other days to see the forecast, too.
A second chance to see the northern lights in Metro Vancouver
There is a second opportunity to view the aurora borealis on Valentine's Day this Wednesday. The UAF says the auroral activity will also be "high" although slightly less than on Tuesday night.
Displays could be visible overhead from "Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Iqaluit to Juneau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Sept-Iles," and then visible low on the horizon from Seattle, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Halifax."
Since city lights can obscure heavenly displays, you'll want to travel outside of the downtown area and preferably to places with higher elevations. Some areas just outside of Metro Vancouver are well-known for their viewing probability, such as Porteau Cove, about 20 kilometres south of Squamish.
Of course, when you do spot the aurora, it likely won't appear green or any other colour. Instead, you'll see an arcing, milky manifestation moving in the sky. To capture that green glow, you'll need to use a camera with a longer exposure.