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Great Weather For Monday’s Eclipse And The Northwest Is The Place To See It

Art James
Courtesy Art James
Neah Bay, as seen from the Korean War Memorial looking north. Vancouver Island is in the distance.

Cloudy weather and milder temperatures have come back to the Puget Sound region recently.  We’ll have partly cloudy skies, no rain and temperatures in the mid-70s this weekend.

But come Monday, skies will clear over most of the region, just in time for the total eclipse.

KNKX weather expert Cliff Mass says we’ll continue to have morning clouds that burn off in the afternoons through Sunday. But then the pattern changes.

“A ridge of high pressure is going to start pushing in and amplifying,” Mass said. “That’s going to continue until Monday – and that’s crucial, because with the high pressure over us, we should have considerable sun. We should have clear skies in fact, the morning of the eclipse, for most of the region.”

He says that will be the case particularly south of Seattle, but there may be more clouds on the coast, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and also on the Oregon coast.

“We’ll have the classic stratus and strato-cumulous. So if you’re along the coast, it’s not going to be that great. It’ll be partly cloudy. Some places will open up, but others won’t. So it’s going to be iffy,” Mass said.

But, he says, if you’re on the Oregon Coast, get up into the coastal mountains about 1,000 feet, and you can avoid the clouds.

The eclipse takes place about 10:15 in the morning. Lots of people are heading to northern Oregon to get into the path of totality, but others will see about 95 percent darkness in areas nearby, such as in the Puget Sound region.

“I expect eastern Oregon will have basically clear conditions that morning, so no problem whatsoever. The only issue on the eastern side will be some smoke – there are some fires floating around – but fortunately, the big plume of smoke from those fires in British Columbia is moving way to the east and north of us, so we don’t have to worry about that," Mass said.

Mass says he expects the Willamette Valley to be completely clear as the eclipse starts around 8:00 a.m. The Puget Sound region might start out a little cloudy.

“But I think it will open up here in the Sound as well, in time to see the eclipse,” Mass said. “So it’s going to be a little bit of a mixed bag, but most of the region away from the coast will have pretty good viewing conditions.”

And he says the weather here will be better than anywhere else in the path of totality – he checked.

“The predicted clouds are less here than anyplace else,” Mass said. “We won’t have much smoke – that’ll be pretty good.” And he notes we’re avoiding the storms in the middle of the country and thunderstorms in the southeast.

“So, by almost any measure, we should have the best viewing conditions of the eclipse of anyplace in the whole country.”

To hear the full conversation, including a discussion of how the eclipse is expected to lower local temperatures, you can click on the 'play' icon at the top of this post. 

Weather with Cliff Mass airs at 9:02 a.m. Friday, right after BirdNote, and twice on Friday afternoons during All Things Considered. The feature is hosted by KNKX environment reporter Bellamy Pailthorp. Cliff Mass is a University of Washington professor of atmospheric sciences, a renowned Seattle weather prognosticator, and a popular weather blogger. You can also subscribe to podcasts of Weather with Cliff Mass shows, via iTunes or Google Play.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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