Sunday, 9 August 2015

Pre-Eclipse 2017 Road Trip: Show me Missouri

Missouri - the Show Me State.

We explored a couple routes in Missouri. This is a cross roads state where one can get across the state quickly on normal days.

Interstate 70 connects St Louis with Kansas City. The eclipse is total across this entire stretch.

We picked up the eclipse path (northern edge line) along US Interstate 70 just a few miles west of St Louis Missouri, around mile marker 216. 

Rolling terrain with plenty of trees, suburban. The eclipse would be total just after noon here and over 60 degrees up in the sky. If the day is clear to partly cloudy, there is a good chance one can see the eclipse from this location. 

Duration of totality will be short along the edge line and there is a strong potential that a lot of people from St Louis may be on this road for the eclipse. If I were to select this area I would plan to arrive early and set up before the traffic starts to slow things down.

Driving west towards Columbia it is obvious that this a major artery in the Eisenhower Interstate System. On a regular day there is a lot of traffic. We passed through on a Sunday and it was crowded. Locals would be wise to avoid this route on eclipse day and use the back roads. Most are two lanes and one can move quickly along them. Just be sure to watch for sudden changes in the legal speed limit as well as slower moving farm equipment.

The region is quite green in early August, with no visible irrigation systems. The rainy season is still going on with random passing storms. The day was sunny then turned cloudy (not rainy) as we passed through the eclipse zone. Maybe the weather improves in later August? According to online weather sources, it does. The Missouri River flows near the central path and there are nature areas near the highway that can be accessed. Not too far to the north are public parks that may be used as well.

The Columbia Missouri area clear sky clock -

Mile marker 111 has an exit that is nearest to the central path. Duration at this point is over 2 and a half minutes. Pick up highway 98 to the north of the exit to move to the central most location. If you are planning to use this area, please arrive early to avoid congestion.

Following Interstate 70 to the west the next major city is Kansas City. The climate is similar to Columbia sitting in the Missouri River Valley.

While driving through we encountered both partly cloudy and hazy weather in early August. Like Ohio the extent of the cloud cover was immense, covering almost the entire state. Slow moving cloud covers are not uncommon this time of year in the Midwest. 

I-29 and I-35, north from Kansas City. Kansas City is on the southern extent of the total eclipse shadow path. Northern Kansas City will experience a short total solar eclipse. Longer duration is visible by moving along I-29 or I-35 to the north near the line marked in red below.

From Kansas City go north on Interstate 29 towards St Joseph (and Omaha Nebraska) to regain the central most part of the path. Mile marker 44’s exit is closestto the center of the path. Once again, this is a major road artery with heavy traffic usage. An early start to find a suitable set up is highly recommended.

Continuing north on I-29 one remains inside the shadow path until just before the Iowa border. That means that I-29 south bound could be clogged up for people coming from Omaha to see totality instead of just a deep partial.

Interstate 35 north is another option from Kansas City going towards Des Moines Iowa. Exit near mile marker 40, Rt 116 to be closest to the central path. I-35 remains inside the central path until exit near mile marker 72. The next exit is outside the path of totality.

OHIO chasers: Coming from Ohio, Kansas City and St Joseph Missouri are a good day of driving. It took us about 10 hours to go from St Joseph to Columbus Ohio. We followed SR36 to I-72, then I-74 to I-70. Totality at St Josephs is over 2 and a half minutes. This is a good base point for coming in a day or two before and finding a place to stay for the night. Based on weather forcast, one can move back to the south-east with ease or to the north-west. The roads are good and flat, just beware there could be a lot of traffic!

...More random thoughts about TSE2017 to follow...

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