Aug 21, 2017
It’s been nearly 40 years since a total solar eclipse was visible in the continental United States.
And while Western New York is not this time in the path of totality — when the moon completely covers the sun — the region will be able to view a substantial partial eclipse. In our region a little more than 70 percent of the sun will be covered.
That is, weather permitting.
Western New York’s weather has stymied many an astronomical event in the past, but the eclipse-viewing forecast is promising. A mostly sunny day is expected, though there are clouds in the forecast.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists have Western New York among the areas identified as “Fair” viewing conditions.
The National Weather Service is calling for mostly sunny conditions in the Genesee Valley, with a high near 88 degrees. The chance of showers and thunderstorms on Monday night are forecast for long after the eclipse has passed and the chance is only 30 percent.
“Viewing conditions for the partial solar eclipse should be good,” with just scattered and thin, high clouds, the Weather Service said in a forecast discussion Sunday morning.
This will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the United States since 1979.
In Western New York, the eclipse will begin a little after 1 p.m. (between 1:10 and 1:15 p.m. in most areas) with the maximum eclipse about 2:35 p.m. The eclipse will end around 3:52 p.m., for a total time of around 2 hours, 40 minutes.
The path of totality stretches from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C. In this swath, the moon will completely cover the sun. When this occurs, the sun’s atmosphere, known as the corona, will be visible.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said some of best weather conditions in terms of cloud-free conditions will extend from interior Oregon to Idaho and southwestern Montana, despite any haze from distant fires.
Over the interior Southwest, the timing of the eclipse will help in terms of cloud cover, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Feerick said.
“There will continue to be some moisture in place over the Southwest, but the eclipse occurs there a little earlier in the day and most of the thunderstorms are likely to occur in the afternoon,” he said.
Some thin, high-level clouds may be present over the interior Southwest for the partial eclipse.
Along the Mississippi River in much of Missouri and western Kentucky, where the greatest eclipse occurs, a partly cloudy sky is forecast.
“A spotty thunderstorm could bring localized clouds, but most of the day should be clear,” Samuhel said.
Showers and thunderstorms is possible from the southern Appalachians to the southern Atlantic coast. Fortunately, no widespread area looks to be overcast the entire time.
An overcast sky may obscure the partial eclipse across a large portion of the Upper Midwest.