Wilderness North's weather outlook for those on the water

Celebrating 30 Years of Wilderness North  –          

Colours in the Night Sky

Last week I mentioned the similarities between this spring and what happened in 1996. Lakes were not ice free in May and early June but warm temperatures, bright sunshine, and lack of rain brought on intense fire activity. This year’s forest fire season has begun in Northern Ontario, but most fires have been have been small in size. The extended ice cover on lakes has limited the choices of access for water bomber pilots as it did in 1996.

The North is recovering from very cool conditions over the weekend, but thankfully the temperatures are recovering to seasonal values with considerable sunshine this week. Good news for anglers but potentially bad news for those dealing with forest fires. As the warmer weather increases and people are starting to make plans for the summer I often receive questions… I was asked recently: “Can you see the Northern Lights in this region in June?”

This is Solar Cycle 24 and a “Solar Maximum” of sunspots is predicted during 2013-2014. These solar storms and related activity means we should experience an increasing frequency of  Aurora Borealis (northern lights) in the next months. The last cycle featured a double maximum in the first years of the 21st century. Sightings were frequent in the Arctic and on rare occasions as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

Typically, higher latitudes – Churchill, Yellowknife have more visible aurora. However, these and other Arctic locations are now in a season with continuous daylight. Displays may be there but not visible. By default, Northern Ontario and other locations between 45 and 55 N. latitude presently offer the best chances to see displays. Of course, city and other light pollution in the sky makes them harder to see. This region is well placed for the lights – after dark and before first light. Sunspot numbers have been increasing but sightings have been limited so far. A glance up at the sky after dark, and a little luck with timing – have your camera handy.

Bye for now,
Graham

For those of you who don’t know, the Aurora Borealis creates bright colours in the sky, as energy from the sun interacts with the oxygen molecules and other gasses in the earth’s atmosphere making them glow like a fluorescent lamp. Generally, people witness varying shades of green or sometimes red, but in some cases one can see all the colours of the rainbow.

If you have an iPhone and are looking to make the most of your stay in remote Northwestern Ontario download the Aurora Forecast app for optimal viewing opportunities.

For more information on the Aurora Borealis feel free to visit:
http://www.northernlightscentre.ca/northernlights.html OR
www.spaceweather.com.

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