Solar eclipse 2024:

Mother Nature might eclipse the eclipse, top meteorologists told USA TODAY Thursday when asked about the weather forecast for the April 8 spectacle, now just nine days away.

The total eclipse will pass over parts of roughly a dozen states as it traverses from Texas to Maine on the afternoon of April 8. Millions of people are expected to travel to see it, which will also attract scientists from across the country to study its unique effects on the Earth and its atmosphere.

The full total solar eclipse experience will plunge people along a narrow path into darkness midday, but people outside the path of totality can still use eclipse glasses (maybe free eclipse glasses) to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

That is, if clouds don’t get in the way.

The forecast from the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center for April 8 calls for “widespread cloudiness and precipitation for much of the eastern half of the nation,” said meteorologist Anthony Artusa. “This, of course, is not favorable for good viewing conditions near the path of totality on April 8th.”

AccuWeather meteorologist John Feerick was also on the pessimistic side, predicting “lots of clouds” from eastern Texas up through the Ohio Valley on April 8.

Both forecasters interviewed admit it’s difficult to say for certain about the weather this far ahead. Artusa said that trying to forecast daily weather conditions this far out is “very challenging, and this fact cannot be overstated.”

And some eclipse chasers say clouds aren’t a deal-breaker. The shadow of the moon will plunge everything in its narrow path of totality into darkness, regardless of whether there’s clouds in the sky, and writer and eclipse chaser Jamie Carter on WhenistheNextEclipse.com advises anyone who has never seen an eclipse to not be intimidated by clouds.

Meanwhile, the early forecasts also have a surprise for people living in the northeast: They show that the farther northeast you go, the better the chances of clear skies might be. That’s the opposite of historical trends for cloud cover.

That is, if clouds don’t get in the way.

The forecast from the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center for April 8 calls for “widespread cloudiness and precipitation for much of the eastern half of the nation,” said meteorologist Anthony Artusa. “This, of course, is not favorable for good viewing conditions near the path of totality on April 8th.”

How do I watch the 2024 solar eclipse, if clouds don’t block it?

There are a few ways of watching the eclipse:

  • Get the full experience in person: If you’re in a narrow band of U.S. land that spans from Texas to Maine, you could see the moon block the sun and its shadow cast a night-like darkness over Earth for a few minutes. You could briefly be able to look up without eye protection and see the moon block the sun.
  • Watch from outside the path of totality: Much of the U.S. could get a partial view of the eclipse that isn’t nearly as impressive as being in the path of totality. Earth won’t be plunged into complete darkness and you’ll have to wear protective eyewear to see the moon partially block the sun.
  • Watch a livestream: Check back on April 8 for a video feed from the path of totality. It’s not the same as being there in person, but hey, at least you won’t have to sit in traffic.

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