4 ways the weather can change during an eclipse

4 ways the weather can change during an eclipse

  • The eclipse may cause temperatures and winds to drop.
  • The atmosphere reacts to the eclipse like a false night.
  • Bats and insects may also appear on weather radars.

A total solar eclipse will occur across parts of the Plains, Midwest and Northeast on April 8, with a chance for the nation to monitor how it affects the weather.

If weather conditions cooperate, everyone in the lower 48 states will see at least a partial eclipse.

(More: What other phenomena will accompany the solar eclipse in 2024?)

To be clear, most of these weather changes will be small, and perhaps imperceptible, unless you keep a close eye on your weather instruments. However, they will be of interest to meteorologists.

1. Some of you will notice a sharp drop in temperatures: Besides the apparent darkness of the sky, if you are in the path of a total eclipse, you will also lose the warmth of the sun.

Temperatures should drop between 5 to 15 degrees in the path of the total eclipse under clear skies. In 2017, several locations experienced significant drops in temperatures as shown below in Carbondale, Illinois.

Tracking temperature from Carbondale, Illinois, on August 21, 2017 during a total solar eclipse.

(NWS Paducah, Kentucky)

In the 2001 African solar eclipse, temperatures dropped from the low 80s to the upper 60s.

Temperatures will likely drop more across the Plains and Rocky Mountains than across the Midwest and East Coast, especially in the overall path. Higher humidity values ​​tend to keep the temperature more constant than lower humidity values.

The drop in temperatures will be noticeably lower in areas where cloud cover obstructs the view of the sun.

(More: An eerie silence may prevail during the April 8 eclipse)

2. Eclipses change the winds: Measurements from the Great American Eclipse of 2017 and another eclipse from 2015 in the United Kingdom showed that the winds changed direction and decreased during the totality.

This phenomenon has been called the “winds of eclipse” for decades, and it may be one of the most subtle changes you will experience in the path of totality.

The experience begins with a drop in temperature as the moon blocks the sun's rays, followed by weakening winds near the surface. Winds are also often found “backward” or rotating 180 degrees counterclockwise. As sunlight returns, winds intensify quickly as temperatures rise. In some cases, this increase can lead to stronger winds than before the total eclipse began.

“When the Sun disappears behind the Moon, the Earth suddenly cools down, just as it does at sunset. This means that warm air stops rising from the Earth, causing a decrease in wind speed and a shift in its direction, with a change in the deceleration of the air at the Earth’s surface,” Professor Giles said. Harrison from the University of Reading who witnessed the partial collapse. Eclipse in the UK with over 4,500 citizen scientists.

3. Eclipses can help thunderstorms develop: In areas where the weather is not cloudy, falling temperatures can cause thunderstorms near the edge of the kidney.

In a process similar to the sea breeze near the coast where cooled air from the ocean penetrates inland under relatively warmer air creating thunderstorms, the eclipse breeze can form.

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If the air temperature drops low enough in the overall path, this can create a band of cold air that will sink and spread. As this cold air spreads, it will sink beneath the warmer air outside the total area. In theory, this could lead to raising clouds and possibly thunderstorms.

Since the total path width is about 70 miles, there should be plenty of room for cold air to develop. The question is, will the air cool quickly enough during the time of totality, about 1-4 minutes, to cause such an effect.

This effect would require a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees, which would only be possible when dew points – a measure of humidity – are relatively lower, which is most likely in the central and western part of the United States. Dew points must be high enough for rain and storms to develop, and there cannot be any large sinking areas such as those common in high-pressure domes high above.

Weather conditions have to be just right for us to see the eclipse breeze as it happens.

(More: The most important things to know about the April total solar eclipse)

4. Watch the radars as the eclipse begins. This might be a bit of a stretch to call it weather-related, but it's something meteorologists often spot on the radar.

Insects, bats and other creatures are often seen crawling from their sleeping places during the night to feed around sunset on radars across the country. The most common Sightings of these are bats leaving their caves across TexasBut these sightings can happen anywhere in the country.

Surrounding a circle are emerging colonies of bats heading out to feed on insects on June 13, 2016.

(NWS San Antonio)

On the other hand, birds can sometimes be seen taking off at sunrise to eat breakfast.

Can we see both effects with this eclipse? Only time will tell, and we'll be watching.

The Weather Company's primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment, and the importance of science in our lives.

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