Weather Prospects

Weather Prospects

The weather prospects for the Total Solar Eclipse across America in August 2017 vary depending on your location. To better explain the topography of the total eclipse path, it’s best to split the path in to three pieces. The West Coast and  Mountain Ranges, The Central American Plains and The Eastern States. All of the information below is based on both satellite and ground based average weather readings and this is by no means a forecast for eclipse day. Weather conditions on eclipse day could be quite contrary to what is outlined below, after all, this is weather we are talking about. This page is simple a guide to the likelihood of good weather along the path of totality. Below is a map that has been color coded to show the average weather prospects.

Average Cloud Cover on Eclipse Path
Eclipse Path Average Cloud Cover – Click to Enlarge

Green = Good chance of clear skies
Orange = Chance of clear skies but risk of cloud
Red = High risk of cloud cover

The West Coast and Mountain Ranges

The West coast through Oregon, Idaho and Western Wyoming features a variety of mountain ranges, valley’s and basins.  Although some area’s in this region have the best weather prospects along the whole path, there are also some regions that can suffer from fog or higher average cloud. The Western coastline has a habit of bringing in cloud from the moist air from the Pacific, there is also a risk of fog along this coastline around the time of totality. As you go further inland towards the valleys and mountains, the Western side of the mountains tend to trap the moist air leaving drier air on the Eastern side of these ranges. The higher the mountain range, the more effective they are at drying out the air. This is why the Columbia Basin and Eastern Oregon have the best weather prospects to see the eclipse whereas the Western side of these mountains have lower prospects. The Cascade Mountains do the best job at clearing the moisture on it’s Eastern side. This is why Madras is coined to be one of the best places to see the eclipse but of course this is all based on average weather and is not a forecast per se.

Across this whole region there is a forest fire risk during the summer months so please bear this in mind. Smoke from these fires could blot out the sun on eclipse day so please keep up-to-date on this page closer to eclipse day.

The Central American Plains

This area of the great plains through Eastern Wyoming, Nebraska and Missouri don’t feature the same topography as the Rocky Mountains. This region commonly generates cumulus clouds that can grow in to thunderstorms late in the afternoon. It is possible however that the eclipse itself as it progresses may cool the air slightly thereby reducing the chances of these storms from developing. Weather prospects across this whole region are still pretty good along the path of totality with the best prospects being in Eastern Wyoming, an area which has good East-West highways to travel along to chase the good weather.

The Eastern States

Throughout Tennessee, North and South Carolina the weather prospects diminish by comparison to the West with percentages reaching above 70% chance of cloud cover (on average). Without stating the obvious, the Smokey Mountains are a no go for observing the eclipse! Don’t write these state’s off though, weather on eclipse day may not reflect the average conditions at all and these states may be your golden ticket to witnessing the Corona, only time will tell.

A note on choosing your location…

There have been articles and news reports about the so called ‘best places to view the eclipse’ such as Carbondale and Hopkinsville. These locations are based on the maximum length of time that totality lasts. We are really only talking about literally seconds here and it’s much more worthwhile to find a place that has good weather prospects on the day. It’s also worth noting you don’t have to be right on the central line. The maps on this site can show you that you really don’t have to be near the central line to still get 2 minutes of totality. Finding a clear sky is key to having a wonderful eclipse experience.

Current visible weather satellite image of the United States