I am excited about the upcoming solar eclipse! Because I am on sabbatical this summer, I can travel to the totality (area where the sun is 100% blocked). From what I’ve heard, seeing it is an amazing experience. But even places outside of the totality will see some pretty cool things, so it’s worth checking things out in your area. Just be sure to protect your eyes and devices with the proper equipment.
I have booked hotel rooms near Kansas City, St. Louis, and Evansville and am prepared to go anywhere from central Nebraska to central Tennessee. While it would be great to experience a long totality (time when the sun is completely covered), the key is finding a place with clear skies.
Typically, clouds are more common in the eastern U.S. Additionally, the timing of the eclipse is less good for the East (mid-afternoon) while folks in the West will experience it in the mid-morning. No wonder hotel rooms in Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming have been going for $1000 or more.
My forecast focus in this and the next few entries will be on the areas I can go and the State of Indiana (since most of my readers are there). At one week out, the larger weather pattern is coming into focus. It appears there will be no tropical systems, which would really cause problems with cloud cover. Another major cloud producer would be a night-time cluster of thunderstorms known as a mesoscale convective complex, but pinpointing locations of those is difficult more than 48 hours in advance. However, we are coming out of the favored time of year for them.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center have looked at various medium range computer models to come up with this forecast weather map for Monday morning. Don’t take it literally; confidence is low this far in advance. Nonetheless, the pattern suggests several important things.
First, anyone under the influence of the relatively strong high pressure over Pennsylvania will have decent sky conditions for viewing. This would include the Northeast and most of the Midwest (WI, MI, northern IL, most of Indiana, all of Ohio). Unfortunately, most of the path of the totality is near the stationary front that stretches from Wyoming to Tennessee. Folks in Wyoming and western Nebraska should be fine, but the weak storm over South Dakota could create cloud cover in Nebraska and Missouri. Jumping to South Carolina, afternoon showers and storms this time of year could disrupt viewing there and in Tennessee, though luckily the eclipse passes through Tennessee relatively early in the afternoon. Finally, Illinois and Kentucky are both questionable — it depends on where the front sets up and where the SD disturbance ends up being (remember, at 7-days out the location of this disturbance is just a guess).
Bottom line: great weather in the Northeast and Indiana. Showers and storms could be an issue in the Southeast and parts of Nebraska and Missouri. Southern Illinois and Kentucky could be great — or not. I’m not cancelling any reservations yet!