Friday Evening: Traffic Forecast Bust, But Weather Forecast Looks Good!

August 18, 2017

8pm Friday

Here we are, sitting on the edge of a big “3 day weekend” that includes the Great American Eclipse.

First, the big question everyone seems to be wondering…WHERE IS EVERYBODY?  Friday afternoon commutes are typically bad in the Portland metro area in the summertime.  My drive in to work was the easiest I’ve seen of any Friday this summer.  In fact there were NO TRAFFIC ISSUES IN OUR VIEWING AREA TODAY.  So much for the first day of “EclipsePocalypse”.  We’ll see how Saturday (when I’m driving to Madras), Sunday, & Monday go.  But this will go down as the first TRAFFIC FORECAST BUST of 2017.  Hey, if we can have weather forecast busts, the traffic planners and officials can have busts too. But this one helped out everyone.

So we’re only 2 and a half days away now and the weather forecast looks the same

As you can see, MOST of us should have excellent viewing for the eclipse between 10:15 & 10:25am Monday morning.  There is one big concern and of course that would be the marine layer, mainly along the coastline.  Notice the cloud cover forecast from the WRF-GFS model for 11am Monday shows the clouds/fog hugging the coastline:

There is a slight chance we get morning cloud cover (mainly before 10am) from the Portland metro area north to Kelso/Longview here in the valleys, we’ll keep a close eye on that.  But with strong upper-level ridging we don’t usually see much inland penetration of the low clouds.

A 2nd minor concern is the possibility of scattered thin high clouds coming in from the northwest during eclipse time.  I’m not worried much about this for two reasons:  First, thin clouds often don’t impede the viewing much according to eclipse-chasing veterans.  And second, only a couple of our models are showing a few thin high clouds moving through anyway.

A 3rd (minor) concern is fire smoke over and east of the Cascades.  As of today I’m not real worried about that either.  First, only a small area of totality will be under any sort of thick smoke, note the midday Terra satellite image from today (click for a better view)

and most fire plumes with the big smoke output tend to form midday and into the afternoons as temperatures rise.  In fact the lack of sun will even (briefly) slow down the morning heating, maybe helping keep those fires down.  Second, thin fire smoke is no problem according to eclipse viewers I’ve had email conversations with.

Let’s summarize a few questions I’ve been asked or heard asked by viewers; some are really interesting.

  1. Who needs to wear the eclipse glasses and when?  ANYONE outside of totality needs to wear them at ALL TIMES (the entire metro area).  Anyone in totality takes them off ONLY during totality.  On at all other times.
  2. Do I need to protect my pet’s eyeballs?  No, they don’t know there is an eclipse coming and have no reason to look up.  I can tell you I’ve never seen my chickens stare at the sun, same with the dog.
  3. What’s different about the sun Monday?  Absolutely nothing, in fact the poor moon is getting the shaft on this one.  The SOLAR eclipse is really all about the moon moving in front of the sun.  The sun is no stronger or weaker compared to any other day.  You can use your eclipse glasses to stare at the sun any day if you want.
  4. Do I need to wear eclipse glasses when I watch it on TV?  No, it’s only if you’re looking at it live.  You can watch it here on FOX12
  5. Why are all these eclipse events being scheduled on a weekday? More people are off work on a weekend.  Because…the eclipse can’t be rescheduled.  It’s on a Monday.

Well that was fun.  Now for our detailed forecasts and timeline: