Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More eclipse questions answered

I'm constantly running into people who are planning a trip to the path of totality on Monday (the 21st) to see something that hasn't happened since 1979 (in the US). The last coast-to-coast solar eclipse was back in 1918.

Forecast update:
We are still anticipating clouds to be a factor Monday, but we might get lucky in the fact that the clouds we DO have will be see through. I don't think we will have to worry about rain, and if we have low clouds around in the morning, they should part in time for the start of the partial eclipse.

What will the weather do during the eclipse?
This is a great question and honestly, I've never been through one OR studied conditions during a total eclipse. However, given that the sun is covered (even if just briefly), we should note a drop in temperatures. By how much is something we will try and measure Monday in Nebraska. I think it will go down 10-15°, but by the time the temperature begins dropping, totality will likely be ending. The wind is also supposed to pick up a bit, but we are already forecasting some gusty winds, so we may not notice much change.

Viewing the eclipse safely:
As you are already aware of -
  • don't look directly at the sun unless you have the special glasses or a welding helmet that's approved for such thing. Even just the quickest glance can cause permanent damage. 
  • It is safe to look at the sun during totality (anything less than 100% it is not safe), but remember, that only lasts for a few minutes. 
  • If you have binoculars, you can look at the sun when it's fully covered. You should be able to see some interesting parts of the sun's corona, which is what you'll see surrounding the edge of the moon as it covers the sun. 
  • You can also take a colander and let the light shine through the tiny holes, and look for the crescent suns shining on a piece of paper.
Many of you have been asking about glasses to watch the eclipse. Most places that have been selling them are OUT! Yes... it's a popular event and I think finding glasses this close to the event will be difficult, but keep your eyes open.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Solar eclipse frequently asked questions

We are less than one week from the eclipse and some of you have questions about timing, what to expect, and how to view it. So most of this week, I'll continue to focus on the upcoming celestial event and try to help you get ready for the big day.

What will the weather be like? 
This is probably the biggest deal now. We are currently thinking that clouds might be around for the morning around KC and northeast Kansas, but they should get out of the way even before the partial eclipse begins. So take a look at the map. I think we may have some high clouds pushing overhead, but we can deal with that. Those high clouds are usually thin enough we can see through them. Most of Kansas should be in good shape to see everything from start to end.

When does it start:
The event will start on the West Coast and will travel all the way to the East Coast.
Partial begins: 11:38 a.m. (Central Time) - moon begins to move into view
Max eclipse (around Wichita and surrounding areas): 1:04 p.m. (lasting just a few minutes)
Eclipse is completely over: 2:32 p.m.

What percentage of the sun will be covered for where I live:
Wichita: 93%
Dodge City: 93%
Hays: 94%
Goodland: 93%
Salina: 95%

Will I see stars come out?
If you are traveling to be in totality, then the answer to this is yes! You should see Venus to the right of the eclipsed sun, and Jupiter off to the left, but it will be near the horizon. Other stars might be visible, but only the brighter ones will probably show up.

Tomorrow, we will talk about what happens with the weather during the eclipse, viewing safely, and other interesting stats. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rainfall reports AND a weekend meteor shower

24 Hour rainfall amounts:
Liberal: 5.12"
Winfield: 1.32"
Garden City: 0.81"
Dodge City: 0.53"
Pratt: 0.43"
Goodland: 0.39"
Great Bend: 0.38"
Wichita: 0.28"
Elkhart: 0.17"
Hays: 0.10"

It's been a very long time since we've seen major hail damage like we saw yesterday in WaKeeney. The very large hail (tennis to baseball size) driven by winds of 65-70 mph does amazing things. And even though there were tornado warnings, I didn't see anything confirmed near Cedar Bluff Reservoir. However, any tornado that might have been occurring would've been completely wrapped in rain - near impossible to see.

courtesy Emily Yanda - WaKeeney

In all of the eclipse coverage lately, you may have overlooked the upcoming meteor shower for the weekend. That's right, the Perseids will be peaking Saturday night/Sunday morning. It's one of the better known meteor showers, but the problem for Kansas - clouds and possible rain. The other trouble (not just for Kansas) - the moon. It will still be bright enough it could wash out some of the more faint meteors later in the night.

So here's what you need to know if you are planning to go out in search of the shooting stars.

Weekend storm chance update:
Saturday has a chance for spotty showers/storms during the day, but there should be several dry hours. So it should not be an all day rain. And there's another chance we will see some developing storms and rain coming into the area Saturday night. I don't expect these storms will be severe.

Sunday looks mainly dry - but we will have to watch for some additional rain/storms Sunday night. Have a great weekend. 

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