Total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 - predictions

Discussion in 'Sky photography' started by Dan Robinson, Aug 13, 2015.

  1. Clarence Bennett

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  2. Elaine Spencer

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    OK, I'm pondering where we (husband, daughter and I) ought to go to view the eclipse. We live within what is, under normal conditions, a 2-3 hour drive from the closest points along the totality path (roughly from COU to MDH). We should, at least in theory, be able to leave home before sunrise (4-5 a.m.), get to the path in plenty of time to get situated, see the eclipse, and be home by dinnertime. However, these are not likely to be "normal" conditions if tens or hundreds of thousands of people are streaming into the totality path and clogging major interstates such as I-55 and I-70. I don't even want to think about what traffic conditions in and around STL will be like. Plus, we'd prefer a less crowded viewing venue outside of the major cities where all the bus tours and hardcore eclipse buffs are headed.

    With that in mind, I am currently contemplating two possible broad target areas that seem to be a bit "off the beaten path" but still close to the centerline: Monroe, Randolph and NW Jackson counties in IL, including the towns of Waterloo, Kaskaskia and Pinckneyville (but NOT Carbondale, which is sure to be a zoo); or Callaway, Montgomery, Warren, Franklin and Gasconade counties in MO (including Fulton and Hermann). Obviously, the closer to the centerline the better, but I'll be happy with any location that gets at least 2 minutes of totality. What are the non-interstate road conditions like in these areas, and how quickly would we be able to move from these locations if necessary due to cloud cover?
     
  3. Brian G

    Brian G EF2

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    Tough call. There are a lot of winding roads in these off-the-beaten-path areas. There are limited river crossings over the Missouri, Mississippi, and Meramec Rivers so that's something to keep in mind. Honestly, my initial thought was Hermann, MO as well. For me that's easy because I already live along Hwy. 94 in St. Charles. And I agree with you regarding the concern about the traffic on the interstates. I could see MO-94, MO-100, US-50, and US-67 being problematic as well especially on the east side of the eclipse path towards the STL metro area. The best advice, which it sounds like you don't need, is leave early and get to the centerline. At least you'll be in the path of totality and won't miss out even if you do get stuck in a traffic jam. As long as the clouds stay away I'm confident you'll get a show. I'm less confident about how long it'll take you to get home though :)
     
  4. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    The Illinois side is flatter and has an abundance of county roads to help spread out the crowds and get you in and out with fewer bottlenecks. I'm planning on somewhere south of Sparta, IL away from main highways, possibly farther south if traffic allows (Chester if somehow there are no crowds). The Missouri side is hilly (aside from the Mississippi River floodplain), has more trees, less roads and less through-routes to get in and out. More importantly, most of the roads on the Missouri side are winding two-lane blacktop without adequate shoulders for parking. On the Illinois side, with few exceptions it's possible to take secondary county roads all the way south from I-70/I-64 and avoid all of the state highways and interstates, and parking anywhere on the side of the road is more realistic.

    For instance, this is a possible route south to the center of totality from my place that takes the "back roads" all the way to Chester, aside from the one bridge across the Kaskaskia River near New Memphis. And there are countless other routes available, too.

    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/38....0x887635eb9b870f97:0xab8df33f7d4fad6b!1m0!3e0
     
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    #54 Dan Robinson, Mar 18, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2017
  5. Elaine Spencer

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    Thanks Dan! With that in mind, I've booked a hotel room for the night before in Salem IL, to shorten our trip to the path by a couple of hours. (Was hoping for Mt. Vernon but they are getting booked up even though they are not quite in the path.) It looks like we could head south or west of there on any road and be well within the path in a couple of hours.
     
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  6. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Now would be a good time to pick up eclipse viewing glasses, Amazon has 5 and 10 packs for less than 20 bucks.
     
  7. Marc R. O'Leary

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    Ran across this today. For you in MO, this seems like a neat opportunity. It would appear they are right near the path of totality (Boonville, MO), and for $50, getting free guaranteed parking , glasses and a couple beers seems like a damn good deal compared to trying to find a roadside spot not socked in. And after the show, go see giant horses. Sounds like a win win to me, just wrong state for me.

    https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/4200393/solar-eclipse-party-boonville-warm-springs-ranch
     
  8. Elaine Spencer

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    Here are some fascinating maps I found regarding projected traffic flow into (and out of) the eclipse path.

    https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/statistics/

    These maps break down all the interstates and major highways into "drivesheds" channeling traffic flow to particular points along the path (in the same manner a watershed drains all precipitation and stream flow into a particular body of water).

    According to the map creator's projections, the worst congestion on eclipse day will likely occur in South Carolina, the closest/quickest state to reach along the path of totality for just about everyone on the East Coast. As many as 2.2 million people could flood into SC for the occasion. In second place is Tennessee, which may draw more than 1.4 million visitors from upstate NY, PA, OH and WV as well as from the New Orleans area. In third place is Missouri, which may draw up to 1.2 million visitors from northern and central IL including CHI, as well as from MN, IA, WI and upper MI. Fourth is Oregon, which may get over 600,000 visitors from the West Coast (I bet they get way more than that, if everyone in California suddenly decides to drop in at the last minute). I'm surprised at how far down the list Illinois is; the assumption seems to be that Chicago area folks who decide to go on the spur of the moment will take I-55 to STL rather than take I-57 to Southern IL.
     
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  9. JamesCaruso

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    As usual, I have procrastinated on plans for this but would like to take my family to a good spot to see it. I am thinking about the Nebraska panhandle, as it would be less populated/crowded and provide a rare opportunity to show my wife and kids a part of the country that I love as part of storm chasing but that they may never have a chance to see (well, maybe my kids if they chase with me when they are older, but my wife is never going to do that... ) I am thinking it would be nice to fly into Omaha and make the drive west, maybe go out of the way to go through Valentine which is a town I happen to like (and haven't been through in many years). But this is just based on a quick glance at the totality map and gravitating towards a place that is less populated and also somewhat familiar to me. For those of you that have studied and planned this more seriously, what do you think about the Nebraska panhandle as a viewing spot? Is any spot in the path of totality better than any other with respect to viewing? Are there any variables to worry about other than crowds? How much of a concern is terrain? I mean you don't really need to see the horizon like with storms do you? What about cities vs rural considerations? I would think that cities would not only be more crowded, but also lights would go on, somewhat taking away from the impact right? Thanks all for your thoughts.


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  10. JamesCaruso

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    Can anyone recommend a reputable site to find eclipse glasses? Maybe I am just paranoid, but I am afraid to purchase from some random vendor that comes up through Amazon or a Google search, as I could see there being unscrupulous companies trying to get rich quick by selling eclipse glasses that aren't actually protective - you know, just like all the cheap drugstore sunglasses that actually do more harm than good by dilating your pupils while failing to actually protect against UV rays. I tried doing some research on the NASA site but I guess as a government entity they are not allowed to link to any particular commercial sites. Thanks!


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  11. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I'm getting ready to book my "backup plan" hotel in Salina. Fortunately, many hotels a couple of hours or more outside of the totality path don't show any signs of being booked any time soon. If clouds are a threat in the Midwest, I will start heading west Sunday morning, stay in Salina and head north in the morning. There are an abundance of secondary roads from Kansas into the Nebraska totality path, so in theory, traffic should be at a minimum.

    James, that is interesting about the eclipse glasses. I bought a pack of 20 from an Amazon seller. I would think there would be some major (including criminal) liability for putting people's eyesight in danger. I might try posing the question to an experienced eclipse chaser.
     
  12. Ben Holcomb

    Ben Holcomb Digital Janitor
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    I too bought a pack of 10 from an amazon seller. Guess there is a chance they are crap, but I would assume its OK. Guess with my eyesight I should probably figure that out beforehand.
     
  13. JamesCaruso

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    • Informative Informative x 2
    #63 JamesCaruso, Jun 26, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
  14. Todd Lemery

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    Does anybody know if a welding mask is suitable for viewing an eclipse?
     
  15. JamesCaruso

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    Todd - see this link, which mentions (about 8 paragraphs down) a specific "shade number" of welding glass that can be used. I saw something else online that said the typical welding mask is not strong enough. It needs to be a specific type.


    https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety2.html


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  16. JamesCaruso

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    Dan, I like the idea of a backup plan, and glad to hear that there are still hotels to be found within a reasonable range of the path of totality.

    My own plan is to fly with my family into Denver on Friday, spend the weekend in Boulder, and then drive up to eastern WY or the NEB panhandle on Monday morning. It's about a 3.5 hour drive but the only closer place I could find was Fort Collins and that only saves a half hour so wasn't worth checking out of the Boulder hotel just to reposition there. But I should probably make a backup reservation somewhere to the east (if I make it to the west it would also have to be further north so the drive starts getting longer; plus I am not familiar with that region, but am familiar with our traditional chasing regions).

    After the eclipse we are heading up north another couple hours to Mt. Rushmore, so I hope I can stick with the NEB panhandle target area. I am really excited about the chance to show my family this part of the country that I have come to love from my chasing trips. It will even be their first time in the Denver area. Although it's rare, it's not impossible to hope that we may even have occasion to chase storms in Colorado that weekend, I would love to give my wife and kids even a small taste of what it feels like to see a storm over the open Plains.



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  17. Elaine Spencer

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    Is anyone besides me targeting small towns that have NO eclipse related events scheduled because we hate crowds? :) There are several small towns in my target area that seem to have absolutely nothing scheduled for eclipse day, perhaps because 1) they still don't know there's a total eclipse coming, 2) if they do, they don't think it's a big deal, or 3) they are intentionally ignoring the event in hopes of keeping the crowds away, or due to lack of resources for organizing an event.

    I would love nothing more than to simply drive into some tiny burg, go to the nearest park with a picnic lunch around noon-ish, set up our lawn chairs, break out the eclipse glasses, wait for totality along with a few locals and then go home. I'm not interested in a big festival, I just want to see the eclipse and that's that. I would think that a small town with no "event" would be the place to do this because people from outside the area would not make it a point to go there. On the other hand, what if huge crowds start randomly showing up and it's a big mess because the community wasn't prepared?
     
  18. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Judging by anecdotal observations from friends and family, general interest in the eclipse is much less than I thought it would be. Very few within my circles are planning to go see it. Some have even made other plans for that weekend. I figure this may change as the media/social media frenzy ramps up within a week or two of the event, but I don't see the apocalyptic traffic jams being as widespread as feared. I think the coasts will probably have problems due to the sheer population numbers funneling into the area, but in the middle of the country, it may very well be a non-event.

    I do expect many small towns within.the path will be overwhelmed, with food and gas supplies being exhausted. I'll have provisions for that, but I'm increasingly thinking I won't need them.
     
  19. Rick Schmidt

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    Keep in mind that most likely thousands of people will coming from other countries to view this eclipse.....Canada especially. When there is a total eclipse in other countries it happens, so no reason why it wouldn't here.
     
  20. Mike Ridgeway

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    I'm going to be at a family cabin just south of Stanley, Idaho. At an elevation of 7200 feet, we are hoping for clear skies! One of the biggest concerns is the number of people expected in this state, and during peak fire season. Can you imagine a major forest fire anywhere in the line of totality where thousands of people will be? Evacuations, traffic issues, etc. Sure hope it doesn't happen.
     
  21. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    I think that's a massive over-prediction. My guess is that you will be able to find spots along non-interstate and non-major highway roads right in the middle of the path of totality with absolutely no one else around provided you're more than a few miles from a major city. Out in the country, there aren't going to be THAT many people flocking in to see it. The vast majority of people live in the cities and it is highly unlikely that any substantial fraction of them will travel more than a few dozen miles or so away to get a good spot.

    I predict rooftops, city parks, parking garages, and other large open areas within bigger cities may see some significant congestion, but outside of major metropolitan areas it will probably be fairly "business as usual" feeling.
     
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  22. JamesCaruso

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    Yes, as you can read in one of my earlier posts, I am going to Wyoming or Nebraska, weather (cloud cover) permitting. I want to avoid crowds and a circus/party atmosphere and enjoy the natural beauty of the event. I want to avoid city lights and be in an open landscape where I can watch the shadows race across the landscape and see 360 degrees around me. And I want to share with my family some of my beloved storm hunting grounds - although it's not quite classic storm chasing territory like the southern or central Plains, it's still a part of the country they would otherwise never have a reason to see.



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  23. Marc R. O'Leary

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    @JamesCaruso

    My wife and I are planning to be in the same general area, looking for a nice peaceful and uninhabited spot to watch this event. Its so big and wide open up there that even with a "limited" path of totality, finding a secluded spot should be a piece of cake.
     
  24. JamesCaruso

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    Thanks Marc, I hope you're right, I am envisioning that there will be cars lined up on both sides of the road within the path of totality, particularly near the centerline... If that's true, I am worried about getting there early enough for a spot, as the nearest hotel room I could get is 3 hours away.


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  25. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I'm taking this whole event lightly. If I can make it to the totality path, great, if not, no big deal. I'm not one to dive into crowds to experience something, even of this rarity. Even chasing, I will purposely leave a good setup if it gets crowded. If it looks like a mess up there, I'll happily watch 90% down in Pawnee Grasslands or similar areas with nary a soul to be seen.

    Full disclosure: My wife wants to see this more than me. Once in a lifetime event, sure, but I'd rather watch a good meteor shower or lightning storm. Perseids: Aug 11-12, 17. Gemenids: Dec 13-14, 17. Better shows than an eclipse IMO.
     
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