Clouds hold off from blocking eclipse

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

An hour before the peak time for viewing Monday's rare solar eclipse in Metro Detroit, the clouds allowed sunlight to shine through.

Earlier in the day, meteorologists with the National Weather Service were expecting clouds to cause problems for Metro Detroiters who turn their eyes skyward Monday hoping to see the eclipse.

The moon will block the sun Monday between 1-4 p.m and the peak viewing time is scheduled to be 2:27 p.m.

The National Weather Service has predicted cloudy skies for most of lower Michigan for the day.

"It looks there will be high clouds in Metro Detroit throughout the day, which will obscure the eclipse somewhat," Dave Kook, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township, said Monday. "There's a chance we'll get some lower cumulus clouds developing this afternoon. If one of those happens to pass over during the eclipse, that will obscure things as well."

On Sunday, one of Kook's colleagues at the weather service, meteorologist Steven Freitag, told The Detroit News that there was even a “real low chance” of showers Monday in Metro Detroit.

“It’s looking unfavorable but there is a glimmer of hope,” Freitag said. “It’s possible the clouds could part in time and you will be able to witness this once in a seven year phenomenon.”

Cloud movement is tough to predict, Freitag pointed out, and it’s possible our views of the eclipse may not be obscured. And the outlook could change depending on potential storms in northern Ohio Valley on Sunday night.

Steve Brown, 54, from Commerce Township, is traveling with family and friends for the rare astronomical show. His son Matt spent three months planning the trip and the family decided to rent a minivan and camp the night before the eclipse.

"We all like the science aspect and the uniqueness of it," Steve Brown said.

They left Commerce Township about 3 p.m. Sunday and spent the night at the KOA campground in Terre Haute, Indiana. They left at 7:30 a.m. Monday to go the rest of the way into the total eclipse zone.

"We're going past Carbondale to Meconda, Illinois," Matt Brown said.

They're headed to Meconda "because it's the point of longest duration," he continued.

But the group, which includes Steve Brown's thee-month-old granddaughter, won't be staying long.

"We're pretty much returning right away," he said. "Someone in the party has to work at 5 a.m. Tuesday."

In Michigan, residents are expected to see about 80 percent of the solar eclipse, which is when the moon aligns between earth and sun and blocks out the light. The eclipse is expected to happen from 1:03 p.m. to 3:47 p.m. The best time to see it is 2:27 p.m. At that point, it will get a little darker outside and the temperature will drop.

Total solar eclipses occur every year or two or three, often in the middle of nowhere like the South Pacific or Antarctic. What makes Monday’s eclipse so special is that it will cut diagonally across the entire United States.

The last time a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. was in 1918.

If you miss Monday’s eclipse — or get bitten by the eclipse bug — you’ll have to wait seven years to see another one in the continental U.S. For the U.S., the next total solar eclipse will occur on April 8, 2024. The next total solar eclipse will be in 2019, but you’ll have to be below the equator for a glimpse. We’re talking the South Pacific, and Chile and Argentina.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN

The Associated Press contributed.