Alright party people, it’s time to get serious about the cloud forecast for the eclipse.
We are now five days away, which means we are within a window when the forecast might actually contain a shred of accuracy.
I know that many of you aren’t going to change the location where you will view the eclipse no matter what the forecast says, but it’s a fun meteorological challenge, so let’s get going.
National eclipse cloud forecast
Thanks to Weatherbell for helping to create this map. Caveats – this is the forecast from only one model, and we’re still five days away. The map shows total cloud cover, which is a mix of low, mid, and high-level (thinner) clouds.
Based on this model, the highest probability of completely clear skies under the path of totality is in western Idaho and central/eastern Oregon.
Cloud forecast closer to Colorado
Zooming into the previous image, we can see that this model is showing high-level clouds over much of Colorado and Wyoming during midday Monday.
Instead of only looking at the cloud forecast, it’s best to understand the underlying weather pattern and then compare that with the cloud forecast to make sure that the model isn’t out-to-lunch.
The underlying weather pattern shows a surge of energy and moisture moving from Arizona and New Mexico northeast toward Colorado during the day on Monday.
These moisture surges are usually associated with mid and high-level clouds ahead of them, so the cloud forecast does make sense.
Let’s check another model to see if it is seeing the same thing.
Yup, pretty much. The two models show reasonably similar forecasts, especially considering this is still 120 hours away.
What should I do to see the eclipse?
If you’re a hardcore eclipse watcher and want a perfectly clear sky, the odds are that western Idaho and central/eastern Oregon will be your best bet.
If you’re into this eclipse half for the science and half for the fun and party, then I wouldn’t change your plans, at least not yet. The cloud cover over northern Colorado and Wyoming should mostly be high-level clouds, which would filter the sun but wouldn’t completely block the view. However, if thicker, mid-level clouds arrive, then the sky would feel more overcast and you won’t be able to see the eclipse very well (but it will still get dark, so the party will go on as scheduled).
Keep in mind that this is still a 5-day forecast, and the full eclipse show is a multi-hour event. Even if there are clouds in your area, they could clear for some part of the eclipse show. Thus, if this forecast doesn’t inspire you, don’t worry as all hope is not lost.
The other big story … cool temperatures
You may have noticed that it has not been very warm in Colorado during the month of August.
The map below shows the temperature compared to the average for today, August 16th. The blue colors show cooler-than-average readings.
Amazingly, most models show a continuation of the cooler-than-average weather, with temperatures staying near or below average (the thick black line) for the next 15 days.
Also amazingly, most models agree that there will be a nice cool-down in eastern Colorado and over the Midwest during the last day-ish of August and first day-ish of September. That’s a long way out for the models to semi confidently forecast temperatures 5-10 days below average. We’ll see if this happens!
Enjoy the coolness … it’s better than the hotness (at least during August)!
Since our forthcoming son doesn’t seem too eager to leave the womb (due date August 25th), I’m planning to be back again on Friday with an update on the eclipse cloud forecast.
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