Total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 - predictions

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

  1. JeremyS

    JeremyS EF2

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  2. Sean Mullen

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    If anyone has ordered from this vendor recently, check the website; I saw the message below today. I ordered back in late June, so I should be okay, but no one notified me of a backlog, so I don't know if they notified people who ordered after July 9.

    NOTICE: Due to the high volume of orders for the August 21st eclipse, SolarLite Mounted Filters, Threaded Camera filters and H-Alpha Systems are temporarily unavailable. Based on current production and the back log of orders, we do not expect to have them available before the eclipse. Our solar filter sheets are a good alternative and still available. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.

    Glasses, Cards, Filter Sheets and Bulk Rolls are available and have a current lead time of 1-2 weeks before shipment.

    Note: Orders placed prior to July 9th have a 3-4-week lead time from order date and should all be delivered by August 15th. Orders placed after July 9th may not be delivered in time and can be changed to Solar Filter Sheet(s). Please email your request and include order number.
     
  3. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Lurker

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    I have been a member of an eclipse chasers discussion group for almost 20 years now. Many of the world's top eclipse scientists and chasers are members. Some of them have chased 20 or more.

    I was mostly clouded out of the one I chased near Munich in 1999. Through that experience, and through the many stories I've read and videos I've seen, I can tell you that there is NOTHING like a total solar eclipse. An partial eclipse of 1% to 70% is neat and interesting; 71% to 95% is very impressive; 96-99% is amazing and unique, but totality is AWESOME in the true sense of the word.

    In the final few moments before totality, there is an INCREDIBLE rush of darkness from the west. During totality, there is a 360 degree sunset, and some bright stars and planets come out.

    But most importantly: during totality, you can remove your solar filter, and you will see solar corona. It's the outer atmosphere of the sun and it is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. You'll see coronal streamers tracing the lines of a chaotic magnetic field around the sun.

    The sight of the solar corona is absolutely mind-numbing. No picture or video will EVER match what the eye sees. THAT is what gets people addicted to chasing total solar eclipses.

    For inspiration and information, you are welcome to check out my blog on the eclipse: http://eclipseaugust2017.blogspot.com/

    I've gathered some of the most inspiring eclipse stories and videos I've come across over the years. I have a links page featuring sites made by some of the world's top eclipse chasers; I have a description of what happens during a total solar eclipse. More recently, I've started posting things related to this eclipse itself.

    I hope that I can inspire you to chase totality. Take the back roads if you need to avoid the crowds- but please find a way to get there.
     
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  4. Marc R. O'Leary

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    @Mark Egan

    Thanks for the info Mark - I appreciate your enthusiasm.
     
  5. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    At one month out, there are no signs of a widespread sellout of hotel rooms near the eclipse path in the Midwest. Here in St. Louis, a search reveals that there are still plenty of rooms available for the 20th-22nd, even inside the totality path.
     
  6. JamesCaruso

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    Wow, that's surprising, given that there are no rooms available in eastern WY or the Nebraska panhandle. Sure, there are fewer hotels in these areas, but proportionately more people in the areas Dan mentions.


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  7. Marc R. O'Leary

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    I think we've decided, pending weather conditions, to head to Scottsbluff, then scoot north into the hinterlands to find a nice quiet spot. Luckily for us it's a day trip, so not a big ordeal.

    Also hearing that a lot of people simply have no idea this is happening.

    Fingers crossed for clear skies.
     
  8. Elaine Spencer

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    That's surprising to me as well. My guess (and that's all it is) is that at this time, there are still relatively few Americans, outside of hardcore eclipse chasers and astronomy buffs, who have ever seen a TOTAL solar eclipse in person. Remember, the last one on the U.S. mainland was in 1979, it only touched the Pacific Northwest and the very northern Rockies, it was in winter, and it was clouded out in many areas. The last one before that was in 1970, and I believe that too was clouded out in some areas. So very few Americans alive today have any idea of what it's like to view a total solar eclipse.

    That said... I'm betting that after this one, as word of mouth spreads on social media and elsewhere from the people who did see it and rave about what an incredible experience it was (assuming that most of them enjoy favorable weather), interest in the NEXT U.S. solar eclipse in 2024 will really take off. You may have to start making plans for that one as soon as this one ends!
     
  9. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    In talking to friends here in St. Louis, many aren't aware that to see the really cool stuff, you need to be in the totality path. I think many don't realize that even just outside of totality, you won't see anything (unless you count as "something" watching the moon partially encroach on the sun with eclipse glasses). Some are just figuring they'll see what they can from where they are. Most are simply unaware of how overwhelmingly "worth it" being in totality is.

    I'm still cautiously optimistic about southern Illinois being mostly trouble-free, but I'll be monitoring traffic levels starting the night before. I only have 40 miles of back roads to drive to get where I want, and there's really only one bottleneck at the Kaskaskia River bridge just south of my town. If jams start appearing at 3AM, I'll be worried! My plan now is to be on the road at 5, unless there are no jams when I wake up at 4. In that case I can leave a little later.
     
  10. Rick Schmidt

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    Many people close to either side of the path will be quite startled, even if they know what is going on. The 95-99% areas, the light will get quite dim....noticeable to people inside near a window. I have experience 1 total, and 2 annulars, and the lighting is quite eerie.
     
  11. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Perusing the map on hotels.com today, it appears every hotel within an hour's drive of the totality path is booked solid now, with the exception of the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas. Those cities look to have plenty of rooms, but mostly in higher-end hotels ($170 a night and up).
     
  12. JamesCaruso

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    Saw this article in the Wall Street Journal today; not sure if you can access if not a subscriber, but it recommends being in the path 24-48 hours ahead of time. I hope that's overblown media hype and not necessary in out-of-the-way places like eastern WY or the NE panhandle... It's hard to imagine experiencing heavy traffic on secondary roads if you get going early in the morning...

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/making...-the-solar-eclipse-read-this-first-1501255615

    BTW, another option for folks to consider is AirBNB, although in the areas I mentioned above there are slim pickings available, either a tiny trailer for $150 or a house for over $2000/night!

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  13. Cailyn Lloyd

    Cailyn Lloyd Lurker

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    My main concern is clouds. While models are adept at forecasting large areas of clouds associated with weather systems, they are less adept at forecasting fair weather cumulus which could be equally fatal to the 2 minutes of totality. I have some tricks which are helpful: 850mb mixing ratios and mesoscale areas of lift and subsidence, none are foolproof. What is everyone doing for cloud forecasting?
     
  14. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Google Trends is another data source to watch as this event approaches:

    https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=US&q=solar eclipse 2017

    This shows the Wyoming-Oregon segment of the path having a greater interest, and potentially, traffic.

    As for clouds, midday overcast here in the Midwest in August is fairly rare, outside of being in the trajectory of a daily MCS/ring-of-fire regime. Any cumulus fields *should* be in their infant stages during totality. Synoptically, I'll be concerned if a west-northwest flow regime sets up to advect MCS anvil material from the northern Plains/upper Midwest, or worse, if the jet is farther south and an overnight MCS is marching across eastern Kansas/Nebraska the night before. The most likely cloud problems would come from high-level anvil debris. Low-level stratus this time of year is extremely rare.

    I'm almost resigned to the cloud issue due to the logistics of trying to reposition. If traffic levels are on the upper end of predictions, it is likely that repositioning any later than 36 hours out won't be possible. If it looks grim the night before (MCS in NE/KS heading east) I will consider it based on realtime traffic data.
     
  15. Brian G

    Brian G EF2

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    Yep, aside from a poorly timed front or tropical cyclone the odds of clouds are actually pretty low around St. Louis and vicinity this time of year. And 1pm is a near optimal time because that allows time for the left over cloud debris of a nocturnal MCS to burn off while being early enough to not worry about scattered airmass thunderstorms which tend to pop off later in the afternoon or even closer to sunset either.

    I'm still not sure what to think about traffic. MoDOT is warning motorists to expect "massive" track problems. And, like you said, it seems like a lot of people are under the false impression that the "show" will be great no matter where you are not realizing that it is a night and day difference between 99% and 100% coverage. I wonder if these people will wise up and jockey for position in the totality path?

    Crossing my fingers that clouds won't be a problem...
     
  16. JamesCaruso

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    Thoughts on clouds in eastern WY / NEB panhandle?


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  17. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    I would think the only threat for clouds in WY/NE would be from either VERY early upslope convection or an ill-timed jet max spinning up a lee surface low overnight. Even then, I think totality is early enough to avoid both of those in 99% of scenarios.

    I made this poll for #wxtwitter to see who was planning to travel to totality. Not scientific by any means, but interesting that it's split nearly 50/50:

    https://twitter.com/stormhighway/status/891864131065741314
     
  18. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Lurker

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    The eclipse chasers discussion group that I mentioned earlier is at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/SEML/info - all of you are welcome and encouraged to join.

    Jay Anderson, a meteorologist from Canada, is very experienced in eclipse climatology and weather. His site http://eclipsophile.com/ is very valuable. You can see the climate data for various locations along the track of totality at http://eclipsophile.com/overview/ (go to the bottom and click on each state)

    As one person said once and many have repeated: "Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get."

    So, Jay has also created a page showing some good forecast sites: http://eclipsophile.com/eclipsewx/

    Actually, fair weather cumulus has a decent chance of dissipating partially or completely as the temperature drops. And if you're near a large lake, it can create a clear patch in the direction of the sun (see the South Carolina page for good examples of that) But other clouds may form as the temperature drops. Of course, if there's a large scale weather system, then the best bet is to try to escape from it- but then there may be traffic issues.

    I posted this to the group the other day:

    "Sites like http://www.skippysky.com.au/NorthAmerica/ and http://clearoutside.com/ give forecasts for high, middle, and low level clouds (anyone know of any others?) Are clouds at a certain altitude more likely to dissipate as totality approaches? If clouds are present at a certain level of the atmosphere a few hours before the eclipse, are they likely to return as the temperature drops? I know, for example, that "popcorn cumulus" have the best chance of dissipating- which level of the atmosphere are they in? I know that fog (esp Oregon coast) has a chance of re-forming- I guess this would be "low clouds"?"

    and got this response from Jay:

    "Typically, small convective clouds with their “roots” on the ground will dissipate as the shadow approaches as the ground cools far more than the atmosphere and their forcing is cut off. Having said that, convective clouds of sufficient depth or amount (broken cloudiness) may also spread out into a layer of stratus, though I think that is more likely in mountain environments (i.e. 1988 in the Philippines, 1991 in Baja). Surface-based convective clouds may have bases that reach the mid-levels, but those clouds will most often be towering cumulus (TCU) or thunderstorms (CB) since it takes a lot of heating to force a parcel of dry air to saturation at mid-cloud levels (but it makes for great storm chasing). They may weaken but likely won’t dissipate during the eclipse. Also, TCUs and CBs both produce mid-level cloud during their lifecycle. Fog may reform if it only a short time elapsed since it first dissipated (Baja 1991 but not Egypt 2006). If an hour or two has passed, the moisture is likely distributed through a greater depth of the atmosphere and will not reform in the duration of an eclipse. Of course, if a persistent fog bank lies nearby (offshore?), all bets are off. To completely answer your questions, you will have to know how the numerical model calculates and defines the various cloud levels. Mid and upper clouds are usually associated with upper-level disturbances and will not respond to the eclipse. Some notes about models: The GFS model is geared toward the forecast of system cloud. The NAM model focusses on convective clouds. Typically they will have (sometimes significant) differences. The HRRR and the RAP focus on convection as well, but they are very short range models. These models have specific uses – the GFS goes out 16 days, the NAM, 84 hours, the HRRR 18 hours, and the RAP 21 hours. The Canadian GDPS goes out 10 days (15 on the right web site) and the RDPS goes out 48 hours. All of these forecast cloud and some forecast layer cloud (actually, they all do, but certain fields are hard to find online). Skippy-Sky uses the GFS model; I don’t know what clearoutside does, but I seem to recall that it used a mixture of models from different countries though certainly the GFS is in there.
    The question you will have to answer is “which model is right?” One source that I know of will let you compare these at a single location: spotwx.com, a fairly sophisticated Canadian site. Just click on their map, or insert a city name and the available model forecasts can be examined. The College of DuPage site at weather.cod.edu will give you regional or continental maps of the cloud forecasts of the various models if you want a landscape view (weather analysis tools >numerical models>(select model)). When different models begin to agree, you can be more confident of your local forecast. For other eclipses, only two models are freely available worldwide: the Canadian GDPS and the American GFS. Spotwx.com works globally and will show both models and some others (try it on Paris), but the comparison may or may not leave you any wiser until the eclipse is fairly close (~3 days). And finally, as a fairly experienced storm chaser, I’d like to point out that the actual (convective) weather often bears only an approximate relationship to the model prediction."

    I have the experience in eclipses; all of you have the experience in weather. Let's help each other out. :)
     
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  19. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Mike Hollingshead pointed out that there are some major wildfires in the Pacific northwest and southern British Columbia. These will be a very real threat to the otherwise prime viewing locations from Oregon to Wyoming.

    Here is a smoke forecast site - looking pretty ominous at the moment:

    http://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/BSC00WC04/current/
     
  20. MClarkson

    MClarkson EF5

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    Ya its been pretty hazy here in Seattle for almost a week now... but the sun has still been pretty visible and has been creating these great red tints at lower solar angles. The smoke might leave some pretty cool tint effects, especially earlier for the onset of the partial? I am debating how hard I should try to avoid the smoke... if at all? I don't want to miss out on the corona...
     
  21. beaudodson

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    My house is in the 100% zone in southern Illinois. It is exciting and I can't wait to experience the eclipse. Another will occur in 2024. We will also be at 100% during that event, as well.

    On the topic of absurd predictions being made. Here is a short list of what local and state government officials, emergency management, and media have predicted for our region (these are main-stream sources)

    It is ridiculous and quite frustrating. I don't know how many scared people have messaged me wondering if they need to leave the area.

    US power grid collapses
    Human trafficking
    ATM's will run out of money or not work
    Political protests
    Children being traumatized
    Emergency services not able to move from point A to B
    Gas shortages
    A crime wave
    Food shortages
    Cell phones won't work
    Prepare to not travel or limit travel for days
    Terrorist attacks
    Toilets won't work because too many people flushing around that time (yes, I read that)

    Sounds like we need to be in the bunker for this one.
     
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  22. JeremyS

    JeremyS EF2

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    I know this is way premature as we are still 2 full weeks away, but I am already at least somewhat worried about potential cloud cover over a large part of the area. Call it a feeling(more like just pessimism that I'm going to miss the coolest thing ever), but the weather pattern around here seems like it's been pretty crappy for this entire past week with clouds, cool weather, and off and on rain, which is pretty abnormal for this time of year. No signs of it breaking this week either.
    Plenty of time for this to break, but the 360 hour GFS had rain/clouds over a large area of this part of the country on the 21st:(:p
    I say this with plenty of sarcasm that is of course hiding my actual feelings of worry!
     
  23. JeremyS

    JeremyS EF2

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    I've been trying to organize and get my equipment ready. I do want to document as much of this as I can, without of course missing everything because my head is looking down at my cameras. I've been trying to "practice" a few things in advance.
    This afternoon I took out my video camera to see how things would look through it and the solar filter I attached over the lens. I have a Panasonic 4k camcorder, and when I went to look at the sun through the filter, I was not able to find it. I wasn't able to play around a long time as I was on my lunch break, but all I was seeing was black, which I know to expect except for the sun itself. I bought a solar filter sheet and have basically cut out a circle shaped piece and taped that over the lens opening.
    So do you guys think I was just missing the sun in my viewfinder or do you think it was a camera issue? Sorry for the very vague question, but I guess I'm just looking for some suggestions or tips on settings, etc to use and then I can play around with the camcorder some more when I get a bit more time.
    I was thinking it could be an autofocus issue where the camcorder was trying to focus on the filter in front of it, so I did set the focus to infinity and switched it over to manual and again wasn't able to find the sun. Again I was a little rushed and the sun would go in and out of the clouds here today, so I might have just been missing it somehow.....
    Any help would be appreciated, and sorry again for the very general question.
     
  24. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    Destin - the guy behind the SmarterEveryDay YouTube channel - has put up a few videos about watching it, including how to film it. Try this video and see if it helps:

     
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  25. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    Less than 2 weeks out, still tons of hotel availability in the STL metro, mostly along I-70 to the north and west to Wentzville:

    https://www.hotels.com/search/searchmap.html?resolved-location=CITY:1426966:UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN&destination-id=1426966&q-destination=St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America&q-check-in=2017-08-20&q-check-out=2017-08-22&q-rooms=1&q-room-0-adults=2&q-room-0-children=0

    Looking at that, coupled with the widespread indifference about the event among friends and coworkers (very few are going or even seem to care much), makes the apocalyptic traffic scenario, at least in the Midwest, seem less and less likely.

    The exception would be Missouri. I-70 gets gridlocked during post-Thanksgiving just with returning Mizzou students, the eclipse is going to shut everything down between KC and STL.

    Kansas City is similar to STL, slightly higher percentage of booked hotels:

    https://www.hotels.com/search/searchmap.html?resolved-location=CITY:1406838:UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN&destination-id=1406838&q-destination=Kansas City, Missouri, United States Of America&q-check-in=2017-08-20&q-check-out=2017-08-22&q-rooms=1&q-room-0-adults=2&q-room-0-children=0

    Nashville, on the other hand, is nearly completely booked solid:

    https://www.hotels.com/search/searchmap.html?resolved-location=CITY:1489624:UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN&destination-id=1489624&q-destination=Nashville, Tennessee, United States of America&q-check-in=2017-08-20&q-check-out=2017-08-22&q-rooms=1&q-room-0-adults=2&q-room-0-children=0
     
    #100 Dan Robinson, Aug 8, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2017

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