What are the expectations for a total solar eclipse?
The honest answer is that you can’t. But what you can do is look at the prevailing weather patterns in April and show what could happen. I’ll start by saying that April is a bad month for cloud cover in the United States. Clouds can ruin plans you made years ago to see this amazing astronomical spectacle. This article will show you general weather patterns and take a look at where clouds and even storms have been over the past seven years on April 8.
The main problem in April is the lack of large areas of high pressure over the United States. Dominant high pressure areas bring cloudless skies due to sinking air. Air has weight, and high pressure is “heavy,” which prevents clouds from building up. In August of 2017, a large area of high pressure brought great weather with clear skies over much of the United States. Large areas of high pressure are usually found over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The path of the total solar eclipse has been determined.
With high pressure not having much impact on the weather, it creates an opportunity for low pressure areas to take over. Three different low levels can bring clouds and rain. Low pressure air is “light”. The thin air rises and condenses, forming clouds and sometimes rain. Low levels act as cloud shields and can ruin eclipse viewing. Spring storms can also produce severe weather and tornadoes.
A big problem for Mexico, Texas and the southeastern United States is the subtropical jet stream. During the spring months this jet stream can bring heavy clouds, rain or high clouds. You can still see the eclipse under high cirrus clouds, but the viewing is muted just a touch. Our best hope is that this jet stream is located far south of Texas on this day. The polar jet stream can fan storms out of low-pressure areas and create powerful storms along the central and eastern paths.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.” The image below is the average cloud cover for the entire month of April. Along the eclipse path, the probability of clouds appearing from the mid-west to the northeast is 80%. Not a good climate forecast. But there’s also no guarantee that clouds or storms will affect the eclipse. No matter where you’ll be, a good time to check the forecast is 10 days. Forecasts will be more accurate after three to five days, and you’ll have a good idea of what the sky will look like on April 8.
Texas is split between 30% to 50% chance of drawing. Central and West Texas have the best chance of being cloud-free on April 8 with clouds becoming more likely from Waco to Texarkana. What worries me is that there will be a cold front today. Not only will this create clouds, but it could also bring about severe weather. Timing is everything, so a cold front at 4pm may still have clear skies during the eclipse. We will publish eclipse forecasts two weeks before April 8 to give a general idea of what to expect in our state. It will be more accurate after seven days. A note about Mexico: It is the dry season and has the best chance of clear or clear skies on this day.
April 8, 2023:
What I’ve done here is I’ve taken GOES-East satellite images from April 8 at 1:30 PM Central Time. What you want to see is a clear view of the ground. Bright white clouds are an overcast sky. Gray colors are high cirrus clouds. Thin clouds reduce the intensity of the eclipse, but it is still visible. You will miss everything under the cloudy sky. April was a rainy month this year. Nearly an inch of rain fell in Houston on April 7. Cloudy skies covered most of the eclipse’s path the next day. Only a few locations were cloud-free. Northeast Texas was a good place. Besides the high clouds, the rest of the country saw good eclipse weather except for the far northeastern United States
April 8, 2022:
Yikes! Once out of Texas, heavy clouds covered most of the eclipse’s path across the United States.
April 8, 2021:
This was another good day for Texas. You can also see how a large area of low pressure created dense clouds in the Midwest. Maine also had mostly cloudy skies.
April 8, 2020:
Below is an example of a subtropical jet stream carrying clouds into Mexico and West Texas. The remainder of the eclipse’s path saw mostly clear skies until it reached the northeastern United States. Later in the day storms from the Great Lakes moved south and brought severe weather. There were 31 tornado reports along the eclipse’s path. The concern with this setup is that traffic will be very bad when people try to get home, and they may get stuck on the roads during storms.
April 8, 2019:
This was another great day for Central and West Texas. The rest of the eclipse’s path was terrible. The brighter the white color, the thicker the clouds.
April 8, 2018:
Here’s another example with most of the eclipse’s path under overcast skies. Central and western Texas will be clear with Ohio under mostly sunny skies.
April 8, 2017:
The last example is from 2017. East Texas is cloudy and clear skies from Arkansas to Ohio. Northeast US cloudy. Have you noticed that the further east you go, the greater the chance of not seeing the eclipse? The weather is usually good in Texas. usually…
If you are looking forward to this day and have plans, be prepared for the worst weather. There will be some areas where it will be cloudy. Because April is the severe weather season, please make sure you do not get stuck on the roads if severe weather is forecast. If you have a car and it’s cloudy, make sure you have a way of knowing where the clouds are. There is a possibility that you can simply travel a few miles to get clear skies.
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(tags for translation) Great American Eclipse