Monday, 17 August 2015

Pre-Eclipse 2017 Road Trip - Where is a Buckeye to go?

One of the most frequent questions I get as an experienced eclipse chaser is "Where is the best place to watch the eclipse?". The simple answer is "Anywhere that you have a view of totality".

The goal is to get to see the eclipse and even if the location is not ideal, seeing the eclipse overrides all other considerations. Eclipse chasers are obsessed with this concept.

So why not wait until a day or two before the eclipse and move to a place where it will be clear? This isn't always possible. Plus travel can be problematic. Travel issues could be a delayed flight, missed connection, road delays, and a myriad of other things.

Eclipse photographers have additional concerns when it comes to location. First and foremost the goal is to see and photograph the eclipse. Equipment set up time, photograph setting, and many other factors important to photographers could make mobility difficult. While experienced eclipse photographers will recommend minimal and quick setup options, the eclipse of 2017 will tempt many American eclipse chasers to bring out all the gear. This is a rare opportunity so why not give it a whirl.

And thus the question of "where" with the quick answer "anywhere" just doesn't cut it for many. They want options, they want a guarantee, they want to be assured, and above all they want to see the eclipse.

So this is where climate analysis comes into play. Studying the climates can give us a rough probability of success in terms of weather. Now it is very important to remember that climate analysis is just statistics based on past observations. It is really not a good way to predict weather for any given day. Eclipse chasing weather guru Jay Anderson has a great way of saying this "Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get". Jay has done extensive analysis of the climate along the eclipse. His write up can be read by clicking here.

Pulling over to the side of the road and asking a farmer about the weather a year or two in advance didn't reveal any great insights. They are better at telling you about the weather coming in the next few hours. When asked more general questions like "Is it normally sunny all day in late August?" the answer was often obtuse. They might say: "Yup, it is hot" or "Yup, till it rains" or "Dunno, I wear a big hat".
Midwestern responses to weather question
We drove around eastern Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, and points in between. We found typical midwestern weather, the same we are used to in Ohio. Mornings can be foggy if the humidity is high and that can develop into clouds and rain OR it can be the start of a sunny but cool day. If the sky is clear and the Sun hot, then clouds may pop up and rain in the afternoon. We felt pretty good about this observation. It means the chance of seeing the eclipse in the midwestern USA is pretty good. Any major storms should be well known the day in advance and allow for some mobility along the interstate highways if needed.

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

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