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Solar Eclipse 2024

Solar eclipse 2024: Latest news on a surprising forecast and where to snag some glasses

Mother Nature might eclipse the eclipse, top meteorologists told ˽ýӳ Thursday when asked about the weather forecast for the April 8 spectacle, now just nine days away.

The total eclipse will pass over parts of roughly a dozen states as it traverses from Texas to Maine on the afternoon of April 8. Millions of people are expected to travel to see it, which will also attract scientists from across the country  on the Earth .

ճfull total solar eclipse experience will plunge people along a narrow path into darkness midday, but people outside the path of totality can still use eclipse glasses (maybe free eclipse glasses) to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

That is, if clouds don't get in the way.

The forecast from the federal government's for April 8 calls for "widespread cloudiness and precipitation for much of the eastern half of the nation," said meteorologist Anthony Artusa. "This, of course, is not favorable for good viewing conditions near the path of totality on April 8th."

meteorologist John Feerick was also on the pessimistic side, predicting "lots of clouds" from eastern Texas up through the Ohio Valley on April 8.

Both forecasters interviewed admit it's difficult to say for certain about the weather this far ahead. Artusa said that trying to forecast daily weather conditions this far out is "very challenging, and this fact cannot be overstated."

And some eclipse chasers say clouds aren't a deal-breaker. The shadow of the moon will plunge everything in its narrow path of totality into darkness, regardless of whether there's clouds in the sky, and writer and eclipse chaser Dz advises anyone who has never seen an eclipse to not be intimidated by clouds.

Meanwhile, the early forecasts also have a surprise for people living in the northeast: They show that the farther northeast you go, the better the chances of clear skies might be. That's the opposite of historical trends for cloud cover.

Surprising early cloud forecast for eclipse

"At this early stage, computer model runs depict a developing storm over the Southeast around the time of the eclipse, with extensive cloudiness and precipitation overspreading much of the eastern half of the nation," Artusa said.

Surprisingly, these early forecasts show that the farther northeast you go, the better the chances of clear skies might be. "Northern New York state through interior New England seems to be the best option," Artusa added.

, in an online forecast released Thursday afternoon said "parts of the Northeast may see less cloud cover and precipitation," when compared to the socked-in central U.S.

Alan Hanstein, executive director of the Challenger Learning Center, uses solar eclipse glasses to look directly at the sun Wednesday, March 13, 2024.

How do I watch the 2024 solar eclipse, if clouds don't block it?

There are a few ways of watching the eclipse:

  • Get the full experience in person: If you're in a narrow band of U.S. land that spans from Texas to Maine, you could see the moon block the sun and its shadow cast a night-like darkness over Earth for a few minutes. You could briefly be able to look up without eye protection and see the moon block the sun.
  • Watch from outside the path of totality: Much of the U.S. could get a partial view of the eclipse that isn't nearly as impressive as being in the path of totality. Earth won't be plunged into complete darkness and you'll have to wear protective eyewear to see the moon partially block the sun.
  • Watch a livestream: Check back on April 8 for a video feed from the path of totality. It's not the same as being there in person, but hey, at least you won't have to sit in traffic.

An inclusive eclipse:How blind and other disabled people can experience the celestial moment

What time is the solar eclipse on April 8?

The eclipse will begin in Texas at 1:27 p.m. CDT and end in Maine at 3:35 p.m. EDT, but the exact time of the eclipse varies by where you are in its path.

You can search by zip code to find the exact time for your location.

Where will the April eclipse be visible?

All of the lower 48 U.S. states could see the moon at least clip the sun, but that sight is a trifle compared to being in the path of totality.

Because the narrow path includes or is near some of the nation's largest cities, expect millions of people to crowd into a band of land a little over 100 miles wide that spans from the Texas/Mexico border to the Maine/Canada border.

Here are the major cities in each state where you can expect to experience totality (note that the included times do not account for when the partial eclipse begins and ends):

  • Dallas, Texas: 1:40-1:44 p.m. CDT
  • Idabel, Oklahoma: 1:45-1:49 p.m. CDT
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: 1:51-1:54 p.m. CDT
  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri: 1:56-2:00 p.m. CDT
  • Paducah, Kentucky: 2-2:02 p.m. CDT
  • Carbondale, Illinois: 1:59-2:03 p.m. CDT
  • Evansville, Indiana: 2:02-2:05 p.m. CDT
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 3:13-3:17 p.m. EDT
  • Erie, Pennsylvania: 3:16-3:20 p.m. EDT
  • Buffalo, New York: 3:18-3:22 p.m. EDT
  • Burlington, Vermont: 3:26-3:29 p.m. EDT
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire: 3:27-3:30 p.m. EDT
  • Caribou, Maine: 3:32-3:34 p.m. EDT

NASA doesn't certify solar eclipse glasses

In the lead-up to the highly anticipated total solar eclipse, the online marketplace had been flooded with manufacturers claiming to be selling protective eyewear approved by NASA.

The seal of approval from one of the world's leading space agencies sounds prestigious, doesn't it?

It should also be a surefire sign for you to avoid that particular product if possible.

Not because the U.S. space agency isn't reputable or knowledgeable when it comes to all things cosmic. But rather because NASA is just not in the business of endorsing any sort of merchandise.

Online marketplaces are flooded with retailers selling solar eclipse glasses they claim have the NASA seal of approval. Consider that a red flag to look elsewhere.

Eclipse glasses:Where to find last-minute solar eclipse glasses before April 8

Hotels are filling up fast along the path of totality

Cities across the eclipse's path of totality are also bracing for an influx of visitors who are already booking up hotels and short-term vacation rentals, officials have told ˽ýӳ.

Several city officials told ˽ýӳ that they've been planning for years for the massive crowds that are set to descend on the towns. And they're anticipating a chaotic weekend.

"We're expecting thousands and thousands of visitors on the shores of Lake Erie – between 56,000 and 200,000 visitors – which is an unprecedented amount," said Robert Lee, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania town.

Hotels, short-term vacation rentals and campgrounds along the path of totality are expensive and selling quickly. Because the eclipse is on a Monday, local hospitality industries are also expecting an unusual boost on Sunday and Monday hotel stays, days that are usually less popular for vacationers.

"We’ve never heard of anything like this where there are people coming in from all over the country. This is pretty unique – Hotels are almost sold out," said Shalissa Perry, the chief marketing officer for Downtown Dallas.

Should I wear eclipse glasses while driving?

No! Eclipse glasses are far darker than regular sunglasses, and they block the sun's intense infrared and ultraviolet lights from harming human eyes. And because they block out almost all visible light, you should not wear them while driving.

"Anyone operating a vehicle should not be attempting to look up at the sky during the eclipse – their eyes should be on the road," said Aixa Diaz, a spokeswoman from AAA. "Eclipse glasses are for eclipse viewing, not driving. They shouldn’t be treated like normal sunglasses."

Will clouds really ruin the eclipse?

Clouds are just part of weather, and as noted in the latest forecast above, it's likely that some of the millions of people in the path of totality for April's total eclipse will have to endure overcast skies that will impact the experience.

But determining how clouds would change your view depends on the types of clouds – and which expert you ask. Some advise eclipse watchers to not worry about the skies, others say an overcast sky can ruin the experience.

Before last year's annular solar eclipse, National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Daldrup told  that if clouds are in the forecast, you should hope for the "right kind of clouds."

“If we wanna see it, we’ll want the higher-level clouds,” Daldrup told OPR. “Those tend to be the more feathery cirrus clouds that can still be seen through. They might obstruct the eclipse but you can still see it.”

Cirrus clouds would be in contrast to some of the more eclipse-unfriendly clouds, such as a thick deck of lower-level stratus or cumulus clouds that would likely completely block the sun.

Why are schools closing for the eclipse?

Primarily out of a concern for students' safety, schools across the country have given students the day of the eclipse, April 8, as a day off, a half day or a chance for e-learning. In Tennessee, for example, officials also say it gives students a chance to experience the eclipse with their family and friends.

Canada's Niagara region declares state of emergency ahead of eclipse

(Reuters) - Canada's Niagara region has proactively declared a state of emergency ahead of the rare total solar eclipse on April 8 that is expected to gather massive crowds to areas in and around the region's popular waterfalls.

The Niagara region said in a statement on Thursday that Regional Chair Jim Bradley had declared a state of emergency "out of an abundance of caution."

"Declaring a state of emergency ... strengthens the tools the region has at its disposal to safeguard the health and safety of residents and visitors and protect our critical infrastructure in any scenario that might arise," a Niagara region press release said.

The dramatic waterfall, situated along the Canadian-U.S. border, is in the path of the eclipse, and many people are splurging on hotels and rentals in advance to experience the phenomenon at one of North America's natural wonders.

ճmayor of Ontario city of Niagara Falls Jim Diodati predicted "by far the biggest crowd that we've ever had" on the Canadian side for the eclipse. Diodati estimated that up to a million people will be there, compared with the 14 million who typically visit during the course of an entire year.

Bad traffic and deadly traffic accidents

Traffic is predicted to be bad and potentially deadly — especially after the eclipse ends. Millions of people will crowd into the narrow path of totality, then most will attempt to leave all at once as soon as the eclipse is over.

Experts warn the excitement could create dangerous and busy automobile traffic conditions as people pack into the small part of the country with the best view.

Roads could be especially packed at the  as Americans who want the best view crowd into cities, towns and remote areas, many without the infrastructure to handle big crowds.

Even worse than traffic, a recent study reported that the 2017 solar eclipse "was associated with increased risks of a fatal traffic crash" – potentially as much as a 31% increase, the .

How will Austin's famous bats react during Texas' total solar eclipse?

Disaster declarations are declared, hotels are booked up, and Austinites are picking up pairs of glasses for April 8's total solar eclipse. But one cohort doesn't care about the eclipse at all. In fact, they'll probably sleep through the whole ordeal.

Bats in Central Texas will be asleep during the eclipse, which is when the moon passes in front of the sun causing complete darkness. The eclipse is expected to pass over Austin around 1:35 p.m. and last for roughly 2 minutes on the edge of town. Daytime is when bats are sleeping after a night of looking for food, said Fran Hutchins, director of Bracken Cave Reserve.

"There's a really good chance that nothing's going to happen because they're going to be in a dark cave and not notice," Hutchins said.

"(The bats) may not really even notice that it's getting dark outside," he said. "They're probably just going to sleep through the whole thing."

Another fun way to experience the eclipse: disco balls

Don't just reach for the solar glasses; a disco ball might be a fun and safe way to enhance the total solar eclipse experience.

Inspired by a  from European scientists, the Round Rock Public Library in Round Rock, Texas, near Austin, used disco balls during the annular eclipse in October and recommends people do the same for the April 8 eclipse. Officials said the use of a disco ball creates a "party-like atmosphere" to make a solar eclipse event more fun.

The mirrored ball can be placed outside where it can catch the sunlight and reflect it on a shaded wall at least several feet away, or it can be inside near a window to cast reflections of the sun around the room. Youth Services Librarian Andrea Warkentin recommends people get disco balls that have smaller mirrors on them as they will create bigger and better images.

"It's a way to make it really memorable and fun for little kids who may not really understand what's going on in the sky," Warkentin said.

-Fernanda Figueroa, Austin American-Statesman

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