WEATHER BLOG: Excitement builds for Aug. 21 total eclipse

By Juli Marquez, Bay News 9 Meteorologist
Last Updated: Monday, August 14, 2017, 6:18 AM EDT

Excitement is building for the total solar eclipse! It's just two weeks away - on Monday, Aug. 21.

This time, the United States takes center stage since the total solar eclipse can be seen from coast to coast. It will start on the Pacific coast near Newport, Ore., and go across the country to near Charleston, S.C. You have to be within the 60 to 70 mile wide path to see the total solar eclipse. Everyone else in the country will see a partial solar eclipse, including us here in Tampa Bay.

If you're staying here at home for the big event, while we won't see the total eclipse, we will see about 80 percent to 85 percent across the region. And that's still a cool experience and it will get pretty dark in the middle of the afternoon!

The eclipse will begin just after 1:15 p.m. and will peak around 2:50 p.m. here in Tampa Bay.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes at just the right place between the earth and the sun. As this happens, day becomes night as the moon's shadow passes over earth. When the moon completely blocks our view of the sun, we will be able to see the sun's corona.

Since it will be a partial eclipse here in Tampa Bay, you must wear special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes. Do not look directly at the sun! I once heard someone describe it as "cooking your eyeballs." Don't try that! Instead, make sure you have the proper eyewear and/or solar filters. They must have the code ISO 12312-2. This will keep your eyes safe while looking directly at the partial eclipse.

Be ready for a unique experience that afternoon. Not only will it get darker during the middle of the afternoon, the temperature will drop as the moon’s shadow travels across the country. Even our satellite images on our weather maps will look different since we rely on the sun for some products.

If you've read or heard anything about a total solar eclipse, it's said to be one of the most spectacular sights and amazing experiences. So if you want to travel to a place that is in the path of the total eclipse, the closest path of totality from Florida is in South Carolina or northeast Georgia. Keep in mind that many hotels in the path are already full. And, the interstates are expected to be jammed! It’s estimated that 200-300 million people live within a one or two day drive of the total eclipse path.

Of course, the weather forecast is going to be very important that day. We will have to watch for clouds and rain chances. No pressure there, right?


Celestron's 'EclipSmart Solar Shades' are among many products that are on the American Astronomical Society's list of approved safety lenses for viewing the solar eclipse. (Celestron.com)

While the total solar eclipse will last just two to two and a half minutes in any one location, it will be a life long memory!

If you miss this one, the next total solar eclipse to pass over the continental U.S. will be on April 8, 2024. That’s just seven years away but it will not be over Florida.

However, on Aug. 12, 2045, you won’t have to travel anywhere to see a total solar eclipse. It will go directly over our state.