The northern lights put on a dazzling display for grateful nighttime sky watchers this week — and they could be seen as far down south as Virginia, North Carolina and Arizona.
A severe geomagnetic storm made the lights, also known as auroras, visible far outside their typical high-altitude locations in Canada, Iceland and the northern areas of the United States.
Excited Twitter users from around the U.S. and other parts of the world shared images of the brilliantly-colored auroras on March 23.
Austin Rebello, who calls himself an “avid weather enthusiast,” tweeted short videos of the lights turning the sky a vivid purple in Massachusetts.
“Currently in Northern Massachusetts, Aurora is visible through the clouds,” Rebello captioned one.
“Absolutely beautiful once the clouds do break, many colors coming in, reds very very faintly visible at the top briefly,” he wrote alongside another.
Though the colorful auroras are usually seen at higher altitudes, the unusually strong storm, which was rated a level four out of five by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), brought the lights to areas that don't normally get to savor their natural splendor.
The vibrant lights were captured on camera in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, just 75 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., giving spectators "a few unforgettable moments."
Some Twitter users reported seeing the lights in North Carolina, while residents of Arizona shared images of them, too.
“We were not expecting that level of storm by any means,” Bill Murtagh, program coordinator at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Washington Post. “A lot of variables come into play ... It’s difficult to get people spun up for the aurora because so often things don’t work out much more often than they do.”
The storm, the first G4 storm since 2017, could bring auroras to the sky again on Friday night, though chances are they won't be as vivid — or appear as far down south — as they did on Thursday. For those hoping to catch a climpse, NOAA says on its website that the best auroras are typically seen between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.