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What are the chances of clear skies during the total solar eclipse? | CBC News

By now you’ve heard the buzz about the total solar eclipse on April 8th. Even as people rush to purchase solar eclipse glasses to witness the spectacle, one of the biggest questions remains: Will we have clear skies?

Unfortunately, April skies in Canada – and especially in areas along the path of totality – are often covered in clouds. But that doesn’t mean you should lose hope.

“April is not the best month for observing astronomical phenomena in Canada,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “In addition, the jet stream changes position from winter to summer patterns. As a result, it is a time for more cloud cover and moving weather systems moving through.”

The path of totality – where observers will see the moon completely cover the sun around 3 p.m. local time – will wind from southwestern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River toward Fredericton and St. John’s.

Phillips provided CBC News with 30-year averages for cloud cover in southeastern Canada at this time of day in April.

A map of Prince Edward Island showing the path of a solar eclipse that will occur on April 8, 2024

Although not all of these locations will experience totality, the data provides some insights.

But these are just average values.

Last year, on April 8, “the sky was open almost the entire length of the route across Canada,” said Jay Anderson, a solar eclipse tracker and former meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“Everyone in Canada, except for a few small areas, would have seen this thing.”

However, even if there are clouds, it is unlikely to be completely cloudy.

Anderson says he’s looked at the last 23 years of satellite imagery for Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces and says there’s almost always an open spot somewhere.

In fact, there is one place that he says is more likely to be clear.

“If you want to maximize your chances, go to Tignish, Prince Edward Island,” he said. “There’s quite a gradient, about 10 per cent less clouds than almost anywhere else in Canada.”


To travel or not to travel?

Some people in the path of totality may plan to stay put and take their chances, while others may plan to remain mobile.

For the latter, it is important to look at local forecasts closer to the day of the eclipse itself.

“I would say if you’re really serious about it … mark how far you want to go and then you can get some pretty reliable forecasts within three days,” Anderson said. “They’re not set in stone or anything, but they’re reliable enough that if there are large clearing areas and multiple forecasts agree with that, you can choose those locations.”

VIEW | Total solar eclipse in Manitoba, 1979:

He recommends looking at different weather forecasts instead of relying on just one.

And when planning a trip, you need to be aware that many other people may have similar plans, so the roads may be clogged with traffic.

But even if you plan to stay home and it’s cloudy, a solar eclipse is still an experience, says Anderson.

“It is a phenomenon worth observing, no matter what the current weather is. Under clouds you see this wall of darkness coming towards you, then turn around and watch it disappear. And it will have an impact on the animals and birds around you because “It gets pretty dark, especially when you’re near the center of that big shadow, where the light coming in from the edges has a long way to go.”

A New Brunswick city plans to increase the chances of catching the whole thing and sharing the experience.

The Balloon Solar Eclipse Project will launch a balloon-borne solar telescope from Florenceville-Bristol that will provide live TV feeds to surrounding communities and also broadcast on YouTube. More information will be announced closer to the day of the eclipse.

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