Friday, July 7, 2017

Can't Catch August's Total Solar Eclipse? North America's Next One is Just 7 Years Away

Brian Donegan
Published: July 6,2017

Shown above is the path of the April 8, 2024, total solar eclipse.
The first total solar eclipse in the Lower 48 states in over 38 years is about six weeks away on Aug. 21, but if you're unable to get in the path of this upcoming spectactular event, the next total solar eclipse will pass through North America just less than seven years from now.
April 8, 2024, is when the next total solar eclipse will slice through the continent, beginning in Mexico, entering the United States in Texas, cutting a diagonal across the Lower 48 to Maine and finishing in Canada's maritime provinces.
Totality will begin at 12:38 p.m. EDT and end at 3:55 p.m. EDT along the entire path of the eclipse. The maximum eclipse will be observed near the cities of Nazas, Mexico, and Torre├│n, Mexico, where totality will last four minutes and 28 seconds.
This is a much different path than next month's eclipse, which will start in the Pacific Northwest, cut across the nation's heartland and end in the Southeast.
(MORE: Timing of This Summer's Solar Eclipse is Ideal for Minimal Weather Issues)
Interestingly, a few locations south of St. Louis in southeast Missouri will be in the path of both total solar eclipses. This includes Farmington, Missouri, and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
But will the weather cooperate for April 2024's solar eclipse, or should you make it a priority to see August's eclipse?
While it's obviously much too early for us to make a credible, specific forecast for the weather conditions seven years from now, average April weather conditions over many years provide some perspective on the chance rain or cloudiness could block your view.

Cloud Cover

Dr. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC), constructed the map below that shows the cloudiest month.
This map shows the cloudiest month of the year.

In portions of the Southwest, Great Basin, Rockies and Plains, April is the cloudiest month of the year, on average. This is also true in a narrow band that stretches from north Florida to central Virginia, as well as in much of Maine, northern New Hampshire and parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.
This is bad news for residents of northern New England because the path of totality will pass directly through that region, and odds favor of stubborn cloud cover which would likely inhibit viewing.
(MORE: America's Dreariest Cities)
Keep in mind, however, that this map represents strictly climatological averages. A strong area of high pressure parked over New England would yield mostly sunny skies for most of the region, but that can't be determined until a few days to a week before this total solar eclipse.

Precipitation Chance

Of course, rain would also inhibit viewing of the eclipse since clouds would likely be thick if they are producing precipitation. In early April, some places could even be dealing with late-season snowfall.
Brettschneider's map below indicates where rain may create headaches for eclipse hunters on April 8, 2024.

This map shows the wettest month of the year.

April is the wettest month for parts of the Southeast, lower Mississippi Valley, central Great Basin and southeast New Jersey. April showers do bring May flowers, after all.
The only region in that list which will see totality is the lower Mississippi Valley in portions of Arkansas and southeast Missouri.
Even if April isn't the wettest month, on average, in a certain location, this doesn't mean rain won't block your view of the total solar eclipse in seven years. Any individual low-pressure system could spread thick clouds and rain (or snow) across a region, fading away all hopes of seeing this phenomenal sight.
(MORE: Yes, April is Actually the Snowiest Month in These Places)
Again, a specific forecast for rain or snow cannot be accurately made until a few days prior to the eclipse. We hope you'll check back to in about seven years for those details.
In the meantime, it may be best to try and get a glimpse at Aug. 21's total solar eclipse, since the timing may be just right for minimal weather issues.
After the April 2024 eclipse, the next total solar eclipse in North America won't be until 2045.
Brian Donegan is a digital meteorologist at Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
MORE: Total Lunar Eclipse, April 4,2015

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