Cloudy for August’s big eclipse? It could happen

Sorry, Columbia. After all the anticipation, Aug. 21, 2017, could end up being one big overcast bummer.

The federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information (an office in NOAA) crunched the data and developed a map that merges the path of the eclipse and historical cloud patterns for Aug. 21.

“We found that coasts could be susceptible to cloudier conditions and that increased cloud cover may be possible as the eclipse travels across the country east of the Mississippi River,” NCEI announced.

Columbia is forecast to be in darkness for 2 minutes and 36 seconds beginning shortly after 2:30 p.m. Aug. 21. South Carolina’s capital city is expected to be one of the best viewing spots in the country for the rare total eclipse.

A look at historical cloudiness patterns suggests another top place in South Carolina to pre-position yourself to watch the eclipse is likely to be Myrtle Beach or North Myrtle Beach. The trade-off? You will be outside the band for the total eclipse. In other words, you won’t get the total effect of the total eclipse.

Of the narrow band of land that will experience the eclipse in its totality in South Carolina, Columbia (43%) ranks below Clemson (75%), Greer (65%) and Charleston (53%) for likely favorable viewing conditions. The higher the percentage, the better the chance that the skies will be “clear enough for the eclipse to be visible.”

The best chance for cloud-free viewing is out West in Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska.

On the map produced by the NOAA scientists, the darker the circle, the higher the probability of a cloudy sky and blocked view.

The most important takeaway from looking at this data is this, the data crunchers cautioned: “Keep in mind the percentage is an estimate of average conditions, not a guarantee for this year.”

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