STEVE Over Lake Ontario

On 9/18/23 I drove up to Fair Haven State Park near Oswego in order to attempt to see the Aurora activity that night. As the skies looked to be clear I took a chance on the drive, unfortunately when I arrived there were a few too many clouds forming off the lake to really see the Aurora clearly. Still I got the DSLR out to take a time lapse. After a few minutes I noticed a strange phenomenon off to the west that went high over the lake and was not something I had seen before.  It was not clouds as it was well above them and began as two bands then combined into one larger band. It stayed for a bit and then the clouds became even worse so I could no longer see it. It’s visible on the left side of the images below and in the youtube video as a time lapse. In the video you can see it moving and clearly is above the clouds in the foreground.

STEVE in the Aurora STEVE occurring during the Aurora

It wasn’t until I saw the NASA APOD image from September 27th, 2023 that I realized what I had seen, and based on the timing and location of that image it’s possible it was the same night or even the same event.

Apparently it’s called a STEVE or “Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement” and looking at the Wikipedia page the images match what I observed. Read more about the phenomenon on Wikipedia below.

STEVE (Wikipedia)