The sun, moon and Earth may be getting into perfect alignment Monday, but the weather may be far less cooperative for ideal viewing of the solar eclipse.
There’s a twenty percent chance of thunderstorms and the possibility of high cloud coverage during the eclipse in the metro-east, National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Carney said.
Carney said 50 to 55 percent of the sky could be covered by clouds at the eclipse’s peak at about 1:20 p.m. However, predicting weather conditions this time of year is a touch-and-go game, he said.
“Unfortunately, this time of year we’re dealing with thunderstorms, so trying to time in clouds and sky conditions more than a few hours beforehand can be pretty difficult,” Carney said.
The cloudy forecast includes the whole metro-east — including Belleville, where parts of the city will see a few seconds of a total eclipse — as well as Carbondale, which will see more than two minutes of totality.
According to an AP report, only about half the country will have favorable weather for the eclipse.
A lot of the day’s conditions depend on what the weather does the night before, Carney said. If thunderstorms strike nearby areas such as southern Iowa on Sunday, decaying storm complexes and clouds could roll through the metro-east Monday afternoon.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like it will be a bright, sunny day,” Carney said. “But timing more than anything is what’s important.”
Scott Ishman, co-chair of the eclipse planning committee and interim dean of the College of Science at Southern Illinois University, said the density of cloud coverage will also impact how much of the eclipse is visible.
“What they’re predicting now is partial cloudiness, so you’ll still be able to get a majority of the effect of the eclipse,” Ishman said. “If it’s overcast, you’ll kind of be able to see the sun, but not as well.”
The only aspect of the eclipse viewers could miss out on due to high cloud coverage is seeing the sun’s corona shine behind the moon.
“One thing is certain: It will get dark,” Carney said. “Even if it’s cloudy, the light will dim. And if you’re in the path of totality, it’ll look like night if there are thick clouds when the moon goes in front totally.”
Ishman said NASA, which will be camped out at SIU-Carbondale’s football stadium with thousands of viewers, will have access to livestreams of the eclipse from across the country. If all else fails, Ishman said, they can display video of the eclipse going on somewhere else.
“We can plan for everything except the weather,” Ishman said. “We have every contingency plan, but everyone’s at the mercy of the weather.”
For now, all eclipse hopefuls will simply have to wait and see what Monday’s skies will bring.