The latest weather forecasts reveal best cities for solar eclipse viewing (2024)

As millions of people across the United States are set to witness a rare total solar eclipse on Monday afternoon, a meteorologist shared an updated forecast for several popular cities along the path of totality.

Kelly Godsey, senior service hydrologist and meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tallahassee, Florida, said on Sunday night during a phone call with Newsweek that the storm systems moving across the U.S. over the next 12 hours will play the biggest factor in how good of a view eclipse spectators will have during totality.

The celestial phenomenon on Monday, which will pass over a vast majority of the United States, Mexico and Canada, coincides with the peak of a solar maximum when the sun is exceptionally active, according to forecasters with NASA and the US National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). It will also be the last total solar eclipse visible in the U.S. until 2044.

"Total solar eclipses are rare, and of course, that's why people tend to flock to them and want to be in that path of totality," Godsey said. "It's a very interesting and very awe-inspiring thing because you go from daytime to basically night and it lasts for three to four minutes, which is why it's going to be a phenomenal experience."

The latest weather forecasts reveal best cities for solar eclipse viewing (1)

With the last total solar eclipse for decades less than a day away, Godsey said the type of cloud coverage will be "key" to how optimal the viewing experience will be. He said that just because a forecast calls for cloudy conditions in some locations, it might not mean the view of the solar eclipse will be restricted. While low clouds, which tend to be thicker, are likely to obstruct the eclipse, the "thin and wispy" high cloud coverage will allow for a better view, he said.

"When we have lower clouds, like Austin or potentially Buffalo, then that tends to restrict the ability to see the eclipse," Godsey told Newsweek.

While looking at the forecast for Monday afternoon, he said that Little Rock, Arkansas as well as portions of Ohio and parts of New England should be "some pretty good spots" for eclipse spectators.

"It's about high cloudiness, and high cloudiness can be finicky," Godsey said. It can be very transparent at times, and if it's in the right spot relative to where the sun is located, you get a great view. As you go across from Little Tock on up into Ohio, if the higher clouds are thin enough that may give you a really good view. Buffalo is a little bit more iffy. Burlington looks really good."

During an interview Sunday night, the NWS meteorologist gave an updated forecast for five popular solar eclipse destinations.

Austin, Texas

Around the time of totality, which is roughly 1:40 p.m. local time, temperatures will be in the 70s and there will be mostly cloudy skies with chances of light rain, Godsey said.

Of the five cities, Austin is likely to have the "least optimal viewing experience," he said.

Buffalo, New York

"Buffalo is actually not looking all that great," Godsey said.

The forecast for totality, which is at 3:18 p.m. local time, will be mostly cloudy and chilly with temperatures in the 50s.

"There's going to be maybe be some mid and lower-level clouds and that would make viewing the eclipse a little less optimal than in Cleveland, for example," Godsey said.

Burlington, Vermont

Godsey said of the five, Burlington's weather is the hardest to predict but looks like the best chance for a great view. Temperatures will be in the mid-50s and conditions could be partly cloudy. However, Godsey said there is a chance it could even be "totally clear" during the peak if higher clouds move in.

The peak is expected around 3:26 p.m. local time.

Cleveland, Ohio

During the totality, roughly 3:13 p.m. local time, temperatures will be in the 60s. Godsey said there will be "some higher level clouds" that increase throughout the day. "When the eclipse begins, the initial part of where you start to see the solar disk obscured is right around 2 p.m. local, it might actually be really kind of clear at that point," he said. "And then as we move toward totality, Cleveland might start to see some cloud cover increasing."

However, despite the forecasted cloudy weather, Godsey still ranked Cleveland as a prime viewing spot, saying it depends on how thick and low the cloud coverage is at the time of totality.

Little Rock, Arkansas

Totality is expected at 1:51 p.m. local time and temperatures at that time are expected to be in the 70s. Godsey said that it's looking like it will be mostly sunny around the time of totality.

"There may be a few high clouds that are streaming over but the forecast right now looks to be a little bit better there than in Austin," he said.

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Eclipse Warnings

Godsey said he urges anyone looking at the eclipse to wear appropriate eye protection, even if it's cloudy. He also said sunglasses don't cut it.

"Even if you're not in the path of totality, if you're 70 percent, 50 percent obscured, we never want to stare directly at the sun," he said. "Don't ever do it even with an eclipse. The reasoning for that is as the moon moves in front of the sun, it obviously makes it seem less bright. So, your eyes, the pupils dilate a little bit and that lets more UV radiation in. And you don't realize it until there's damage done."

He warned that looking at the eclipse without proper eye protection might feel fine at the time, but can cause serious damage to your retinas.

"It's not something that you necessarily feel at the time," Godsey said. "You don't feel that pain that comes with looking at the sun normally but then later you're like, 'Wait a second. Why am I not seeing?' Whereas if it's a sunny day, just like today, if I had gone outside and looked directly at the sun after about 10 or 15 seconds, I'd have been like, 'Whoa, I need to look away.'"

Godsey also urged people along the path of totality to "have patience" as the influx of tourists who traveled to watch the eclipse is likely to cause traffic jams.

"After the last eclipse, the areas that were in the path of totality, there were notable traffic jams," he said. "There's going to be a lot of people in some of these areas viewing this particular eclipse so be patient with one another, be kind to one another."

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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The latest weather forecasts reveal best cities for solar eclipse viewing (2024)

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