Northern Lights forecast: Will the aurora be visible over DC Sunday?

A secondary peak in the current solar storms came Sunday afternoon. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an X-class flare erupted Sunday around 2:30 p.m. EST. 

A flare is an eruption from the sun that usually lasts from minutes to hours and they are rare, NOAA says. Officials say some radio frequencies could be impacted by the flare.

The northern lights were visible to millions in the U.S. this weekend, including some near the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions. And the big question on everyone's mind is whether the Northern Lights will be visible over D.C. Sunday night. 

On NOAA’s scale of severity, Sunday’s geomagnetic storms could reach level G4 or G5 (G5 is the most intense). If the forecast holds, Sunday night could bring a repeat of Friday night to the DMV, when similar storm levels brought aurora sightings up and down the East Coast.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Northern lights forecast for DC, MD, VA

NOAA issued a rare Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch beginning Friday and lasting all weekend. It was later upgraded to an Extreme (G5) Geomagnetic Storm as it reached Earth. The watch was the first of its kind issued in nearly 20 years.

Several individuals across the region said they witnessed purple and green skies early Saturday morning. 

According to NOAA, a large sunspot cluster has produced several moderate to strong solar flares since Wednesday.

At least five of those flares were associated with CMEs, or coronal mass ejections, which are explosions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona. The CMEs that were spotted appear to be directed toward earth and could trigger geomagnetic storms.

The Northern Lights are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, NOAA says. During large events, the aurora can be observed over the U.S., provided the skies are clear and cloud-free. It's expected to be mostly clear over the DMV, so be sure to look up!