Aurora Viewing in Southcentral Alaska

Though Fairbanks is often assumed to be the only northern lights (aurora borealis) viewing location in Alaska, there are some distinct advantages to chasing the lights in and around Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska. This Anchorage northern lights forecast page is designed to provide you information to aid in your search for a northern lights experience during a visit in the Anchorage area. Join us on our Anchorage Aurora Quest for a guided experience, showing you the best viewing locations and providing instruction on how to photograph this amazing phenomena.

Aurora and Weather Forecasts

3-Day Aurora Forecast

The aurora forecast is updated for September 23. Keep an eye out for our daily weather forecast update below and tour status as noted on the Anchorage Aurora Quest page. The Kp estimate is for the maximum level forecasted for the time between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. Alaska time. 

THU SEP 23 – Planetary K-Index [predicted]: Kp 2

FRI SEP 24 – Planetary K-Index [predicted]: Kp  3

SAT SEP 25 – Planetary K-Index [predicted]: Kp  3

Additional Information Affecting Aurora Viewing

Moon: The moon will rise at 8:41 p.m. as a 90.14% waning crescent and will be up all night. The moon will interfere with quiet aurora while it is up in the sky.

Twilight: Nautical twilight ends at 9:29 p.m. and will resume at 6:14 a.m. (Sept. 24). Twilight will not be a factor in aurora viewing.

Solar Winds: Slight enhancements in the Interplanetary Magnetic Field are expected to continue over the course of 23 Sep. Conditions should trend nearer to background levels on 24 Sep before a negative polarity Coronal Hole High Speed Stream (CH HSS) arrives on 25 Sep, elevating conditions once again.

Geomagnetic Field: Quiet to unsettled conditions, with a chance for an isolated active period, are expected 23 Sep. Quiet to unsettled conditions are expected 24 Sep as residual glancing influence from the 19 Sep CME and positive polarity CH HSS wanes. A negative polarity CH HSS is anticipated to affect Earth on 25 Sep and increase the chances for geomagnetic storming. A max Kp of 4 is anticipated.

Planetary K-Index provides an estimate as to how wide the auroral oval may extend. It does not indicate whether the aurora borealis will appear. The most important factors for aurora viewing are the solar winds and geomagnetic field – so note the information above on those. The Planetary K-Index is measured on a scale of 0-9. Anchorage is within the Kp3 zone (aurora visible overhead), but auroras are often seen here on the horizon as low as Kp1 (except for the early and late season, where a higher Kp is needed.) A fairly accurate Kp index can be determined up to 3-days in advance. For the Kp index indicated in the Anchorage northern lights forecast, that is the maximum Kp predicted during the prime aurora viewing time in the Anchorage area (generally between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.). We do not provide the Kp level for a forecast period outside of nominal viewing times (i.e., local daytime).

Last Night’s Aurora

  • The maximum level for the Planetary K-Index was a Kp4 at prime viewing time for Alaska.
  • The maximum hemispheric power achieved last night was 33.1 at 11:44 p.m.
  • The IMF was slightly disturbed due to a weak positive polarity CH HSS and the likely arrival of a glancing blow from the 19 Sep CME late in the period. Total field was 3-6 nT, Bz ranged 4 to -5 nT and wind speeds were ~360-405 km/s. Phi was predominantly positive, but began to oscillate to the negative solar sector at approximately 23/0238 UTC.
  • The geomagnetic field was quiet to active.

Current Aurora Ovation

Aurora Ovation

Hemispheric Power is a measure of auroral activity that helps determine how bright and active auroras might be. It measures the rate of deposition of charged particles (mainly electrons and protons) into the atmosphere, where they collide with upper atmosphere particles and eventually stop. This process transfers their kinetic energy to the upper atmosphere. The higher the number, the more charged particles are depositing in the upper atmosphere. It’s measured on a scale of 5-150 GW [Gigawatts]. A power level of 20 or more is usually adequate to produce auroras visible to the naked eye. Hemispheric Power fluctuates and is a short range forecast that can be determined only up to around 30-90 minutes in advance with relative accuracy.

Tonight's Weather Forecasts

The forecast is updated for the night of September 23.

Anchorage

Rain likely before 1am, then rain and snow likely. Cloudy, with a low around 34. North wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Girdwood

Rain. The rain could be heavy at times. Low around 34. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Knik River Area

Rain, mainly before 1am. Low around 31. East wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Estimated cloud cover is 100% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Palmer (includes Hatcher Pass)

Rain likely, mainly before 10pm. Cloudy, with a low around 34. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Sutton

Rain likely before 1am, then a chance of rain and snow between 1am and 4am, then a chance of rain after 4am. Cloudy, with a low around 33. East wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected. Estimated cloud cover is 76% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Chickaloon

Rain and snow likely before 1am, then a chance of snow between 1am and 4am, then rain likely, possibly mixed with snow after 4am. Cloudy, with a low around 32. East wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Estimated cloud cover is 34% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:0 0 a.m.).

Glacier View

Snow. Low around 25. Northeast wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible. Estimated cloud cover at Lion Head is 100% (11:00 p.m.) to 74% (4:00 a.m.).

Wasilla

Rain likely, mainly between 7pm and 10pm. Cloudy, with a low around 31. North wind 5 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:0 0 a.m.).

Willow

A chance of rain before 1am, then a chance of rain and snow between 1am and 4am, then a chance of snow after 4am. Cloudy, with a low around 32. Light northwest wind increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 50%. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).

Talkeetna

A slight chance of rain before 10pm, then a chance of rain and snow. Cloudy, with a low around 33. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Estimated cloud cover is 99% (11:00 p.m.) to 99% (4:00 a.m.).
Latest Satellite Infrared Image of Alaska Cloud Cover

Anchorage Aurora Season 2020-2021 Statistics

Anchorage Aurora Season Statistics

Late summer aurora borealis corona display over Anchorage.