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Solar Flare to Produce Spectacular Northern Lights

An Earth-Directed coronal mass ejection (CME) occurred during the early morning hours Friday.

The resulting solar flare was pointed directly at the United States for a duration of nearly two hours, according to Hunter Outten. Outten is a contributing forecaster for the AccuWeather Astronomy page.

"The CME is pretty strong and is coming pretty quick," said Outten. An intense Northern Lights show will cover a large part of the northern U.S.

"The lights could be visible for the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and everywhere northward," said Outten.

The lights may be visible as soon as 4 p.m. EDT Saturday. "The best time to look for them will be around midnight," said Outten. "The states in the northernmost U.S. may be able to see them all night long."

Viewing Conditions Saturday

The best viewing conditions will be in the New England states, which should be mostly clear. New York will be partly cloudy with a limited chance to view the lights except for the extreme northeast to north central part of the state, which should be clear.

Partly cloudy conditions for the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and the extreme northern parts of Pennsylvania will limit the chance to view the lights.

"From the northwest coastal states to the east coast near Maryland, it will be mostly cloudy with a poor chance to view the northern lights," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

Viewing Conditions Sunday

Again on Sunday, the New England states will have the best chance to view the lights.

New York and northern New Jersey will be partly cloud and may be able to view the lights at some point.

There will also be partly cloudy skies over Idaho, central to eastern Oregon and the extreme east part of Washington state on Sunday.

All of the remaining states from Idaho east to Maryland will be mostly cloudy and have poor viewing conditions.

According to NOAA, the geomagnetic storm that will produce the northern lights will arrive late on Saturday and be a minor storm. The geomagnetic storm on Sunday is rated as moderate. The more intense the storm is, the better chance it will be for the Northern Lights to appear.

"This geomagnetic storm may disrupt communications, such as satellite television and G.P.S. units," said Outten.