Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Where are you going to be for the eclipse?

One of the most frequent questions I've gotten about the eclipse coming this August 2017 is where I plan to view it. There are a lot of factors this time around. Many choices, roads, good weather data, and fun venues.

So - Where will I be seeing the eclipse this summer?

The right answer is: Under clear sky!

The reality is that we cannot control that feature of the weather. So that means one might need to travel. And planning for said travel means locating oneself near good roads and with options to move to alternative micro-climates. On the really good side is the fact that this eclipse will occur in August, a time where there are relatively good weather predictions across the eclipse path.

Denise and I drove a large section of that path from Wyoming through Illinois. Interstate highways were the primary roads and there are plenty of ancillary roads as well should traffic be an issue.

Along the road we encountered wispy clouds and a common good trend. The sky most cleared near to sunset.  This is a good trend because as the atmosphere cools off during the clouds tended to drop out. Atmospheric cooling does happen during a solar eclipse as less sunlight is heating it up.

Maybe an overpass is not a good place to set up
Overpass in Nebraska, nice sky!
Storm fronts present the worst case for eclipse chasers
This cooling effect comes with potential hassles such as increased wind in some geographic areas. Eclipse chasers who went to the Sahara in 2006 reported increased winds before 2nd contact (these winds died out BEFORE second contact as the atmosphere regained a form of thermal balance). The Sahara is an extreme environment of course.

So what is America like during the month of August? Specifically later in August around the 21st? Humid and Hot with a trend towards drying and cooling later in the month. All good in my mind.

An additional factor to be considered for us this particular eclipse for us are friends and family. For years they have heard about our eclipse chasing exploits around the world. Most of the time they wonder why. Now one is coming near them and we wanted to include as many as possible in our planning. Being originally from Ohio, we opted for a central base camp near Nashville TN. From there we can go East or West depending on the weather prospects.

So where will we be? If the weather plays good we will be in Kentucky or Tennessee. I've avoided getting involved with planned tour groups and venues so that we can be flexible and move as needed. Should the weather be bad we will be on the road the night before if not earlier to get to clear sky. So don't be surprised if you find us near by at the last second!

For a really good analysis of the weather prospects, check out Jay Anderson's web site. He is a meteorologist and has been studying eclipse weather for years. But of course, also keep in mind that old adage "Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get".

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