Northern lights appear in L.A. County skies this weekend

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The northern lights dazzled across California skies late Friday night — even as far south as Los Angeles County.

The stunning nighttime display of pink and purple lights across the sky was mostly visible in the high desert and along Highway 2 in the Angeles National Forest. Several viewers posted their photos on social media.

“Never would’ve dreamed of seeing #aurora here, much less capturing it with an iPhone. Breathtaking,” one person wrote on X.

Typically confined to polar regions, the aurora borealis is making an appearance in the continental United States this weekend thanks to an unusually strong solar storm. The dazzling phenomenon, also known as the northern lights, is caused by supercharged collisions of solar energy into the gas of Earth’s atomosphere.

For the first time since January 2005, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a severe geomagnetic storm watch, warning that a concentration of energy flaring from the sun could disturb Earth’s electromagnetic field.

A geomagnetic storm happens when energy from solar wind is transferred into the electromagnetic field around Earth. Most of these atomic particles are usually deflected, except for those in the polar areas, which create the northern lights.

But unusually strong bursts of energy can cause geomagnetic storms large enough to disrupt communications, and NOAA said there have already been “reports of power grid irregularities” and disruptions to GPS signals. The storms also create colorful nighttime displays in the sky much farther south.

Those that missed last night’s performance may still be able to catch a glimpse — the storm is expected to persist through Sunday. Simply look north.

Times staff writers Corinne Purtill and Jaclyn Cosgrove contributed to this article.

Purple light from the aurora borealis over Highway 2 in L.A. County.

The northern lights appear Friday above Highway 2 in Angeles National Forest.

(Jaclyn Cosgrove / Los Angeles Times)

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