A Little Help From the Weather Gods

Ittttt’sss the middle of October. Cool arctic air is arriving from the north, and you know what that means with our lake-ridden countryside.
Quiet auroral conditions persisted through the night. The clouds did not. Tonight started as a very delicate clear sky chase, but ended under clear sky as far as the eye cloud see.

Sean NormanOctober
The Difference of 24 Hours

Last night was all sorts of backwards. Unexpected cloudy skies and reaaaaally good auroral conditions. We’re never going to be perfect, and cloudy nights are hard enough, but to know there are perfect auroral conditions up there just sticks a dagger in the young heart.

Tonight, however, was something else. Despite it earlier in the afternoon seemingly like auroral conditions just wouldn’t budge into anything more favourable, at one last check as we were leaving town revealed a very different story unfolding. And that story unfolded toward the end of the Ingraham Trail, well away from incoming cloud, hour after hour.

Sean NormanOctober
When You Just Can't Resist Those Extra Seconds

The 6am flight departure from Yellowknife, an extended clear sky chase, and late auroral activity. Basically the recipe for disaster.
In the end it couldn’t have been more perfect. We were down to the literal last few minutes we had before we really needed to begin our longer crawl/drive back along the frost heave ridden highway to meet pick-up times for the early morning flight.
Get us off daylight saving time alreaaady. Oh but wait, we need to wait for Halloween to pass so corporate America can capitalize on greater candy sales first.

Sean NormanOctober
Icelandic Nostalgia
66 North Iceland.gif

For the feeling of a numbing wind ripping across your face, turning the vehicle so it’s parked blocking the wind, driving through a blizzard on a highway at 30km/h because you cannot see anything in front of you except snow - falling and blowing across what you think is the road - there is something very special.
The temperature was -1°, and the wind was gusting 53km/h. We chased clear skies up and down the highway, the aurora waiting for us at every turn.
For all those ‘perfect’ nights we’ve had this year, I think this one is my favourite so far.

Sean NormanOctober
So We Drive

You cannot ask for better than this. Although a highway drivable at more than 60km/h would be nice, but until the world stops melting and the permafrost becomes again… at least a little more, permanent, I’m not holding my breath.

It was a long, slow drive out of cloud tonight. We passed small clear breaks along the way but kept aim at some 110km from Yellowknife where steady clear skies were more assured. The aurora danced and danced across the sky, and the exhilaration of these nights does not wear off so easily.

Sean NormanOctober
The Highway Milk Run

An ultimately slower than forecasted moving cloud bank lead us to chase pockets of clear breaks up and down the highway tonight. Mostly through a little scattered cloud, wide arcs of aurora often stretched over our heads and just as good as our stops tonight were the views out the windows in between - pale green arcs and columns toward the horizon.

Sean NormanOctober
She Swayed

Every moment you thought you had to catch your breath, the aurora did her best to take it away. Again. For hours she danced. Flashes of pink and green with the naked eye, and that soothing, fluid dance across the sky all came and went.
Arriving back into Yellowknife under broken cloud amplified an already humble feeling for a night of such perfection. These chases are magic.

Sean NormanOctober
All The Way Back

Something in my heart often is the way the aurora used to be.

Social media and the internet has changed all that, of course.
It used to be I travelled with guide books, back when I was actually young enough to backpack. Ohh, 32, almost 33. After Norway last October, I talked myself (and Morgan) into believing it was my backpack and not my body. So I bought a new backpack. And then a few months later, a new suitcase (just in case it was my aging body).

Tonight I was reminded of those days, when the aurora felt elusive, partly because it was much less publicized. To arrive in an arctic destination, eager for that forever lingering twilight sky, knowing there are nights ahead the aurora may fill the sky overhead at some ungodly hour, and that it was never a given - this was mysterious, almost secretive. We knew less then, and there was a magic to that.
Today it’s not that none of that exists, because it does, and that’s all still present and accessible. But the internet and the world today has made the experience more mainstream, and it’s easy to lose sight of the old days. The good old days from the eyes of a 32 year old. Scary, isn’t it.

Sean NormanOctober
Now Starring

…the Milky Way.
Hah!

All was quiet on the aurora front tonight, but what a few hours to love on the stars.

Sean NormanOctober
Balance, You Could Say

The weather tonight, without question, exceeded my expectations. That’s nearly two months strong of that.
The aurora, on the other hand tonight, from a very personal perspective, was a little quieter than I was expecting. But any night under the stars with the sweet smells of nature is hard to fault, even when compared to 24 hours earlier.

Sean NormanSeptember