August 22, 2017

Meteorological Effects of the Eclipse...and More

I returned home last night viewing the total eclipse (I was position within the Ochoco National Forest of eastern Oregon).

I was really moved by the experience...the period of rapid darkening before totality is strange and unsettling, and totality is other wordly, with a huge corona that pictures don't do justice.

The darkening of the eclipse was very obvious in visible satellite are two shot at 10:15 AM, one (left) for eclipse day (August 21st) and the other from the day before

I had my trusty digital thermometer with me and I was impressed by eclipse-related temperature decline from 72 to 59F (13F) between 9:30 and 10:30 AM (totality started roughly at 10:20 AM and was a little less than 2 minutes long at the centerline).

Other places in eastern Oregon had declines even larger (14-15F).  For example,  John Day, Oregon declined 14.9F (see graph below)

Keep in mind that the cooling effect of the sun is even greater than these number, because under normal sun, the air temperatures would have continued to warm from the strengthening morning sun.  So think about a cooling impact of 15-20F...that is impressive!

What about here in Seattle?   At the top of the atmospheric sciences building on the UW campus, temperatures dropped about 4F (see below).  But there are some subtleties you might find interesting.

This plot of weather conditions at the UW on August 21st  includes the solar radiation (lower panel).    A big chunk was taken out by the eclipse (time is in UTC, so 18Z is 11 AM).  Temperatures were suppressed for a few hours, with a decline of about 4F from what occurred before and perhaps 5-6F from what would have occurred.   Wind speed dropped a bit during the eclipse and was less variable (top panel).

Why?   Because the weakening of solar heating at the surface lessened the vertical mixing of thermals in the lower atmosphere.  Less mixing means less downward movement of stronger winds aloft and reduced variability.  Wind direction shifted noticeably with the eclipse, shifting from northerly to southwesterly.

As another way to get at the eclipse temperature effects, here are the differences between model forecasts and observed temperatures at Redmond, Oregon--just inside of totality. (UW research scientist Jeff Baars did this analysis).  The UW WRF model does not have the eclipse radiative effects, so the difference between forecast and observed gives you an idea of eclipse impacts.  11 AM (right after the eclipse) is shown.  In the days before the eclipse, the model was too cold by roughly 2 F, but is was too warm by roughly 7F right after totality, implying a large cooling impact of the eclipse.

The NWS ran a model (HRRR) with and without the radiation corrections and plotted the difference in temperature at 11 AM.  It suggested cooling of 4-6F over much of the region, with some locations getting to 8-12F.

In other parts of the country, the reduced heating greatly attenuated the development of cumulus clouds, which are also driven by solar heating at the surface.

Here are two GOES-16 visible satellite images, one at 1722 UTC (1222  PM EDT), before the eclipse, and the other at 1947 UTC (2:47 PM) EDT, after the eclipse.  The small cumulus are nearly gone after the eclipse cools the lower atmosphere.

I should note that the models and forecasts were quite good, providing good guidance for eclipse lovers.

And  now for an editorial.  I have sometime complained about the media hyping and exaggerating stories, which has gotten me into loads of trouble with a few local outlets, such as the Seattle Times and the Stranger.    Well, I can't help but mentioned that the media, in concert with some local government folks, profoundly exaggerated the difficulties of traveling to the eclipse in Oregon.  And relatively easy steps were not taken to facilitate travel. 

Last week, there was story after story about travel Armageddon.  That travel would be impossible, total gridlock, gas and supplies unavailable, no places to stay, and crazy prices for rooms or parking.  They talked about wildfires started by folks parking on the sides of roads and overwhelmed cell phone networks.

 Some samples below:


The reality was very different.

There was very little traffic in Oregon over the weekend (even in the early morning hours on the same day).    Lots of gas and no lines.   Stores and restaurants were stocked...and not very busy.

The crazy stories in the media caused panic among some Oregon residents, who lined up to get gas last Wednesday.  This was NOT the visitors.  Gas supplies were promptly restored the next day.

The media hype resulted in hotel/models/rentals jacking up prices and even canceling reservations of those who "paid too little" by making reservations a long time ago.  We are talking major greed here and our local governments did not protect us from it.  Some farmers were selling parking spaces for hundreds of dollars a day.

Turns out the high prices discouraged folks from making reservations and there was a lot of rooms available the night before!  I checked myself....big discounts available with room prices dropping from $1200 to $149 at some places in Bend and Redmond, Oregon.

There was  bad traffic in Oregon immediately after totality, but the State could have greatly lessened the traffic by using police to open up some intersections.  Stop signs in remote rural towns resulted in long waits for no reason.  And Washington DOT did rock blasting in the Snoqualmie Pass, closing it down from 7-8 PM as the surge of traffic was trying to get through.

In short, the media did the people of the Northwest a major disservice in scaring folks away from one of the most amazing, moving events of the natural world. They did so with little real information, echoing increasingly problematic warnings among themselves.

Local governments did not protect travelers from cancellations, and did little to deal with traffic problems when folks wanted to go home.  Will the media do a story about this?


  1. What "real" information could they have depended on instead for an unprecedented *future* event in the area, one which garnered worldwide attention and hype for weeks if not months on end? It was clear that a lot of people were going to go to the first state to see the eclipse, and since not that many people have descended on a lot of these small towns in their history, things could have easily gone the other way in terms of many if not all of the things the media mentioned. It's reasonable to think that it was more likely than not that things would have gone badly.

    It seems like the same argument used against weather forecasters when they pull out all the stops to warn about what might be an upcoming blizzard. They more or less have to outline the worst-case scenarios, because if they don't, and the worst happens, they'll catch flack far worse than if it only ends up raining.

  2. Apropos,
    I will push back on you about this. Logically, one would not expect big problems for folks coming in. People arrive over several days from many directions...the area of totality was quite large. No reason to expect gridlock coming in. The media hyped up ONE incident midweek of 30K folks going to ONE location in central Oregon that produced a traffic jam for a few hours. A logical individual would understand that this was not a sample of the upcoming week.

    And I disagree about snowstorms. One should provide the most probable scenarios and give the probabilities of scenarios...this is what we are trying to do now. I would not complain if the media/authorities had said there was a 5% of the end of the world...cliff

  3. I agree that the traffic hype beforehand was totally unfounded, but the exiting traffic was truly a nightmare. We spent 9.5 hours going from Madras to Seattle via 97, friends spent 11 hours taking I-5. Was seeing reports of 14 hours from other friends from Salem to Seattle.

    So "There was traffic in Oregon immediately after totality, but the situation quieted down 6 hours later." is underselling it a bit. It was still very bad 6 hours later. It was maybe the worst traffic jam I've ever been in.

    Doubly annoying was that I subscribed to all the traffic alert accounts on Twitter, and their alerts looked basically identical before and after the eclipse and traffic could not have been more different. Lots of "backed up traffic, delays of 20 minutes to 2 hours", which isn't really meaningful.

    So yeah, the traffic warnings beforehand were really bad. But then again, traffic actually DID end up being kind of a nightmare.

  4. Cliff - I think the local government warnings (in response to media hype) actually worked perfectly. People staggered their travel to the eclipse sites. The only real traffic problem was in advance of the aforementioned 30,000-person festival outside Prineville.

    But, if you look at what happened afterwards, it was clear the warnings were more than hype. Salem-to-Portland was 3 hours for 50 miles. Some reported it taking two hours to drive through Madras. ODOT said there were 2 hour delays on US 97 approaching Biggs Junction. And, going back to the first point, a lot of people staggered their returns home.

    No, there weren't gas shortages – perhaps because people filled their tanks before leaving the big cities? I know it made me pull over and get a splash in The Dalles before heading down to Wheeler County. Yes, room rates cratered at the last minute… because hotels realized they still had rooms to fill and $150 is better than $0.

    Basically, it seems to me that this was actually an argument for how everything actually worked great. People were prepared, state leaders were ready in case something went wrong (a rapidly-spreading wildfire on Sunday night would have messed a *lot* of people up, for example), and humans listened to weeks of "It's going to be dreadful" being drilled in their heads to make informed decisions on how to avoid the biggest problems.

  5. I was there too Cliff, not too far from your location. Found a quiet spot high on a mountain road. Very few people around. Yes, one of the most profound experiences of my life. I kept thinking of the prehistoric people who watched this eons ago.. how terribly frightening it must have been. And you are right - this is something a photo just can't do justice.

    The biggest travel problem was, as you say, the backups at a few intersections in small towns where there are only a few stoplights. They should have done a little thinking ahead of time and put traffic police in theses intersections for a few hours so that the heaver-than-normal north-bound traffic could get through. Other than that, no travel problems whatsoever.

    I for one have stopped wasting my time reading or watching any local media. It's really the only way I have found to fend off going completely nuts. They are so far off into the ditch with their self-serving agendas (and there are multiple of them) that I have simply had to turn it off completely and permanently. What a pathetic mess..

  6. Glad your traffic situation wasn't a nightmare, but it was for many - so the media wasn't completely wrong here. What should have been 6 hour drive home for us was a 9 hour drive.

    I found OregonDOT had done a great job preparing for the incoming throngs with roadway signage, rest areas well maintained and staffed, etc. Most of the problems we encountered were in Washington. It took 3 hours to get from North Bend to Snoqualmie Pass on Saturday for instance. On the way back, we just barely made the 7pm closure (1hr+) for blasting. Those behind us weren't so lucky. How could the WSDOT schedule a major roadway shutdown for the exact time when tens of thousands of motorists are returning to Western Washington from a special event?

    We got lucky that no major wildfires were started by eclipse travelers. The Oregon National Guard stopped everyone going into our viewing area to educate them on wildfire prevention. It paid off. I can't see that the media was wrong to bring up the risk beforehand.

    Greatest corona I've seen, btw. Thanks for all your work ahead of the event in predicting cloud coverage, and, and, and.

  7. Agreed on the hype issue. We went from Bellingham to Malheur N.F. (just down the road from you, I suppose). Roads were basically empty on the way down, and we had about 1 hour of traffic heading north on 395 in the afternoon. A friend or two from Bellingham skipped a trip south because of fear of crowds and hectic traffic and such. Although it's too easy to blame transportation agencies for, arguably, succeeding at preventing the eclipsocalypse, it also seems fair to say that media outlets pumped it for the clickbait (and seized on those early Madras photos when they came out). And ODOT saying it might be the biggest traffic event in history might have been a bit over-heated. :-)

    I commented on the last post, so I won't repeat it all here, but: perceived temp swing was really dramatic where we were, too: very hot to people putting on jackets.

    And yeah, a spiritually profound experience, to be sure.

    I will henceforth say "a 99% partial eclipse is a 0% total eclipse". (Not that a 99% eclipse should be missed either.)


  8. Those "Many people" who where afraid,probably were waering 'Tin Foil Hats' !

  9. Hilarious. I was one of the people who canceled, partly because I could not get a room at a reasonable rate anywhere near Salem, and didn't feel like getting up at the crack of dawn and driving the final 50 miles or so.

  10. Nine hour drive from Salem to tacoma post eclipse. Don't think the media over hyped it. I could've biked that distance faster. (I bike 6000 miles each year. So 180 miles is no big deal. )

  11. Quieted down after six hours!? Seems apocalyptic to me.

  12. The media, even the "mainstream" lives in a click-bait world now. Hype is their primary stock-in-trade, not journalism.

    But the solution is dead simple -- assume everything you read has been exaggerated and enhanced well beyond the facts, and further assume that the headlines are completely deceptive. Also, assume that commercial and political influences drive the stories.

    Once you wrap your head around that, then the media isn't a problem at all.

    The problem then shifts to people who assume the media is worthy of their trust. Thankfully, that group continues to shrink (but not fast enough!) Eventually, News and pure entertainment will merge, or at least become indistinguishable.

    Not sure if a modern democracy can long survive in that kind of an environment, but I guess those of you who are younger than me will find out. Best of luck.

  13. Two thoughts on this as a member of the media (although only a meteorologist, not a real "news" person. 1) The media follows what government officials and news releases tell them. Much of the pre-event scary talk came straight from your own tax dollars. But yes, then it was hyped like everything else, tweeted, retweeted, etc... 2) The exit of traffic WAS just as bad as most of us expected. I was at Hwy 26/197 all yesterday afternoon. Traffic pretty much didn't move through that area for the following 6 hours. It took 7 HOURS for the last RV's/cars to get out of the two huge lots/encampments at the Madras Airport (SolarPort). In fact it took 4 hours for all planes to get off the ground AT the airport. I had never seen so many planes or heard so much prop noise in my life. At 7pm when I left, US-26 was still jammed northbound (not really moving much) at that location. That means traffic was jammed up in the Madras area for at least 9 hours following the eclipse. That's pretty bad, but to be expected. Yet all those vehicles took 4-5 days to arrive, thus no problems coming in Wednesday-Sunday. On a side note, it was amusing that a line of cars began to form exiting those encampments BEFORE TOTALITY ENDED! This all said, it was worth the wait afterwards...amazing! Mark Nelsen - KPTV, Portland

  14. Matt: Agree on the Snoqualmie blasting! What were they thinking?! We should be sure to let them know how dumb they were for that.

    I also just barely made it. Not only was it stupid, it was probably dangerous too -- tons of people going 85mph+ because they didn't want to sit there for an hour after they'd already been stuck in traffic for 7+ hours.

  15. Folks...let me answer a few more. So there was no traffic problem going down there at all. No gas problems while there. No problems with fires and plenty of supplies. So all that hype was false. The only real issue was what to do when totality ended...that was always the issue. That is what should have been talked about. ODOT and WSDOT and their State Patrols did a poor job. Key lights should have been taken over by police. Rural stop signs should have been covered or manned by police. It would have had a huge beneficial effect. Alternative routes should have been discussed (I used one and got home with only an hour delay). The problems led to folks to play with their electronics too much...surely resulting in several of the accident that closed major routes. Oregon should have had a program for staying another day, encouraging folks to remain in Oregon at a discount. The media should have understood the going home failure mode and talked about solutions...they didn't. ..cliff

  16. The traffic was bad coming back from the Willamette valley (we ended up in Monmouth) and it was still bad through Centralia at 10 PM so I'm not sure where you got the 6 hour number. Regardless of the traffic, it was totally worth it and I'd do it again. The only thing I would change is spending the night there and leaving very early in the morning to drive home. The eclipse in 2024 passes through my home town of Little Rock with 4 minutes of totality so im already thinking about that trip.

  17. I agree with you, Cliff. My wife and I left Kirkland at about 1PM Sunday to head down to Portland. The WSDOT traffic map showed congestion from about Fife to JBLM and again between Centralia and Chehalis, so we took 167, 512, 7, 507, and Jackson Hwy, and didn't get onto I-5 until Toledo. It was pretty much clear sailing the whole way, even though many people told us we should have left days earlier (and my wife packed food for two days in case we got stuck on the side of the road). We were in Portland by 6:30PM, even after spending an hour with my brother in Tenino.

    On Monday morning, we left the Portland Airport area about 5:30AM, stayed off I-5, drove down 99E and 213, and were in Silverton by 7AM for breakfast. It did take us about a half-hour to get a table because the place was packed with people from all over; we're happy another couple offered to share their table with us.

    We left Silverton right after totality ended. Traffic was pretty miserable from Silverton to about Carus, about 22 miles that took about three hours -- and when you really examined it, ALL of the backups were at stop signs or signals with no real cross-traffic; it could have been easily solved by having just a few Oregon state troopers waving people through at the few stop signs and signals on 213. It was again clear sailing all the way up 205 and 5 to Chehalis, where we sat in a backup to Centralia, but then it was open again to 512 (we took 512 and 167 because WSDOT had lanes closed in Tacoma). And even after spending almost 3 hours getting through those first 22 miles, it took just over 6 hours total to get back to Kirkland. And we didn't have to tap any of the food we packed.

  18. I couldn't believe Portland would even have rooms. Booked the Marriott for 100$ ON SUNDAY. The drive to Salem took an hour, who needs a hotel in the immediate locale? I was warned to gas up before heading there. My sixth sense, (very accurate) downplayed the panic. Got there gobbled breakfast in Salem and found a nice area near a lake. Walmart was packed with long bathroom lines. So i went to Home depot. Empty! Got me a lawnchair
    Despite the traffic being congested for an hour plus after the event it was very much worth it.

  19. Cliff, I tend to agree with you. I thought that for the most part everything went smoothly. People were generally well behaved. I didn't observe any illegal fires but I did hear a rumor about some folks having a large fire. The drive home from the Baker OR area was busy but ok until we got near Umatilla. Certainly it was no worse than a major holiday long weekend. I agree the state DOT's didn't do as well as they could have. Our problems started as we passed Pendleton and neared the I-82 cutoff. Apparently one lane on the bridge over the Columbia was closed. What on earth were they thinking? A couple accounts I read said that there was nothing going on in the closed lane. To add to the problems, the DOTs had little to no updated information on the website (we checked several times). All we could find was severe congestion-use alternate route. How helpful. Well we tried one; hwy 730 and this was a 20 mile long parking lot-literally. I read that they routed folks on to this bypass and then closed it with no warning when it got to crowded. We did get home to Winthrop but it was 3.5 hours longer than usual.

    Back to the eclipse. I had waited 38 years for this and I am just overwhelmed at how well it turned out. It was beautiful, surreal, dreamlike, spiritual, and emotional. The corona seemed exceptionally large and bright, perhaps because it was so clear and I was on Dixie Butte (7600 ft). All this in perfect weather. I'm afraid that I am addicted and am starting to look at the July 2, 2019 eclipse in Chili. There are a number of other good reasons to visit this country.

  20. KOMO has added: 5,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from a fish farm because if the exceptionally high tides and fast currents.

  21. I was one of those people who had been planning for a year to go down to Oregon but about two weeks ago decided against it when hearing about the possibility of chaos and Armageddon. In making that decision, I knew that the dire predictions may not come true, but it seemed reasonable that they could have come true.

    Had there been no media predictions of chaos, then there may have been chaos because so many more people may have elected to go rather than stay home. And then media and public officials would have been criticized for failure to anticipate and report the potential for chaos.

    For this event, there was really no precedent or any basis on which to make a meaningful prediction of what would happen. So I'll give the media a pass.

    Totally agree with you about the "rural stop sign" issue. I feel the same way when there is a malfunctioning stop light creating huge backups but no cops apparently available to come in and direct traffic. And the Snoqualmie Pass closure was equally audacious. Sort of like on a 9 AM Washington State ferry sailing from Anacortes to Friday Harbor a few weeks ago at 9 AM on a beautiful summer Saturday morning, with hundreds of walk on passengers waiting to board in Anacortes, and 150 vehicles queued up, they decided it would be the perfect time to do a "rescue drill", hence delaying the departure by close to 40 minutes. Do these people at Wash DOT have no sense?

  22. Some of us found the hype in general tiresome. Sounds like you were more fortunate than many as far as return traffic was concerned, Cliff. Be grateful.

    And now, the weather. Sure is dry as dirt out there!

  23. With no planning at all, I was able to snag a room in Salem (location based on your previous recommendation) at 4pm Sunday for a 3x markup. Drove from Seattle to Salem Sunday night in 4.5 hours. Motel was next to the I5 onramp (carefully planned), left soon after totality, 4.5 hours back to Seattle. The only slow traffic going north on I5 were uncontrolled rural onramps with a continuous line of cars merging and closing off the right lane. Amazingly, there was no slowing between Olympia and Tacoma around 2:30pm Monday.

  24. We took back roads down to Oregon through central Washington and had no problems with traffic. There was a back up in both directions on interstate 82 where it crosses the Columbia River south of the Tri Cities. But this was because of bridge work. I saw an NBC film crew filming it. I'd be curious to know if they attributed it to solar eclipse viewers or if they where honest and told their audience that the bridge was limited to one lane traffic each way because of construction work.

    We went to the town of Fossil, Oregon and found a back road that took us up into the hills about 1000ft above the town. Splendid viewing. Only a handful of other people found the place. A local rancher was driving back and forth with a large water tank, ready to put out any fires should one be ignited by someone's hot tail pipe. In the town of Condon, police were waving people through the stop sign keeping traffic flowing. Everyone was friendly and helpful.

  25. I'm glad I started back home right after totality. My original plan was to stay put for a couple hours figuring there'd be lots of people thinking "if I leave right away I can beat traffic." Turns out that idea was correct! I watched the eclipse from Timothy Lake south of Mt. Hood and made the 250 mile drive back to Seattle in almost exactly five hours.

  26. We had a similar experience at McMinnville, Oregon. Decided NOT to join the Evergreen Air & Space Museum in favor of a nice quiet spot in our motel parking lot.

    We left immediately after totality had passed. Traffic was at at a crawl leaving McMinnville, so I can only imagine what it would have been like had the media scared off the faint of heart!

  27. Enjoyed reading all the discussion and I completely concur about the excessive hype about traffic getting to the Zone. One thing lacking however, was a more accurate assessment of cloud cover. Sunday's post of weather effects neglected the shut-down of convection and the dissipation of the pop-up cumulus. This was very dramatic in interior SC- we went from 60% cloud cover at 1 pm to perhaps 10-20% at 3 pm. Thus the NWS cloud forecasts of 40-50% clouds, were, I suspect were overly pessimistic. I'd be curious if this has been considered.
    (I did catch your comment about the reverse problem- the slower burn off of marine stratus)

  28. I agree and appreciate Cliff's editorial comments. The traffic challenges did extend into Tuesday. A 5.5 hour drive from the central Oregon coast took 8 hours. Not horrible but definitely a residual affect of the eclipse.

  29. On Sunday we had open roads from Scenic Beach State Park (where we'd been camping on the weekend) to Salem. No problems at all. Walked 2 miles from our friend's house to the Minto-Brown park along the Willamette River to see the eclipse. Salem was wonderful - they opened their city parks to free camping on Sunday night. They had ample porta-potties, signs in every park reminding people to wear glasses and on Monday before the eclipse, police on bicycles were handing out spare glasses to those who needed them. We felt very welcome and Salem was well prepared. They were expecting more people, according to the police we spoke with, so maybe the dire warnings scared people away?

    I am so glad we didn't listen. It was one of the most amazing natural sights I've ever seen. Like experiencing sunset, nighttime, and sunrise all at multi-sensory time lapse. We heard crickets, saw stars and planets, felt the temperature drop, saw the 360 sunset all around us. AND we brought a white sheet to place on the ground and saw the shadow snakes just after totality was over. Our two kids, ages 15 and 12, were awestruck - not an easy thing to do for that age. Our 8 month old puppy appeared unfazed by it all. The crowds around us cheered with joy when totality occurred - some were moved to tears - myself included.

    So... the 9 hour drive to get back to Seattle on Monday (2pm to 11pm)? I'd have driven 18 hrs if needed. We were high on the experience and we'd agreed ahead of time to pack our "PASH" - Patience And Sense of Humor. We enjoyed taking the back roads east of Salem up to Oregon city - seeing the hop fields, vineyards, and other local sights.

    I look at it like this: People drive many hours and spend hundreds of dollars to see Old Faithful - which goes off every 60 minutes! This totality was once-in-a-lifetime for many people. A few extra hours in the car... no big deal.

    I think those cities and towns in the path of totality for the next eclipse can/will learn from this one and will get better from there.

  30. Drove from Easter WA to the mighty (and wonderful) town of Fossil, OR early Monday morning, and drove home Monday morning.
    Friends thought we were crazy to try.
    Essentially no traffic on the way down. Left after totality, had some traffic on Satus Pass, but we were always at or above the speed limit.
    Unless you plunged into major metropolitan traffic (and really, I-5/Portland traffic is bad on any weekday) there was absolutely too much hype.
    It was my second eclipse; profoundly moving, awesome (with the literal definition), and inspiring. I feel very bad for folks who didn't see totality.

  31. I wasn't there, so take this question how you will, especially since I'm a media person (broadcast meteorologist in Iowa - I enjoy your blog, BTW).

    As I understand it, there were officials saying traffic was going to be horrendous. One of the headlines you clipped carries quotation marks - "biggest traffic event in Oregon history." That would mean that somebody ELSE said it... it's not the media outlet's words.

    So, how is it completely the media's fault for using the words that officials were using? Shouldn't blame be laid at their feet?

  32. Why on earth would you expect our governments to protect us from greed and avarice? Read the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the City of Seattle and see it for yourself.

  33. Since the state or Oregon and Portland allowed widespread rioting to go on for months in the downtown area here (with the resultant millions of dollars of damages doing nothing to affect a change in the politicos and law enforcement SOP), why would anyone expect them to do anything remotely adequate in allowing a more speedy and safe traffic outflow? Most of the roads here are still torn up from last winter's snowstorms, despite the sky - high property taxes.

  34. Cliff
    I agree that the locals did a great job of being ambassadors for the area. As you noted, stores were stocked, camp grounds available. ( we were just south of Fossil only filled up on Sunday)
    As you noted, nothing can substitute for the real deal... and having all those see the eclipse in good weather was a real treat.
    I also wonder if the great influx into such rural areas ( apparently 92% of the path of totality voted for Trump) might not have some positive effects on the attitudes of those same locals. Only time will tell.
    I also agree that the great "escape" from Oregon was terribly managed. I would have opened up both lanes on roads leading north. Perhaps even the same on I5 for those areas of where the lanes were reduced to only 2.
    The ultimate idiocy was closing down to ONE lane I5 near Tacoma for road repairs, that could easily have been delayed for a couple of days. It's not as if WSDOT could not have predicted this. I wish someone could actually say something about this, and the person whose responsibility this decision was, be made to explain him/herself.

  35. Can you please point me to the source of your hourly temperature data? I'd like to look up the corresponding information for my eclipse viewing location (Colton, Oregon).

  36. I know several who stayed in place, including several in Portland who were treated to several minutes of shadow bands that we missed entirely near Amity. But all are kind of regretting their decisions not to travel to the zone of totality.

    For me it was wonderful - and the folks at the Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge observation spot on Hwy 22 were especially special. They held our spot while we went in search of necessary "facilities". I was hosting some Japanese paleoscientists and we and some of the cream of the crop of Oregon geologists had a fantastic time in the field Sunday and Tuesday, and we had perfect conditions for Monday and an easy drive back to our hotel in Kelso via Tillamook and the Coast Range.

    We have our place booked for April 8 2024 in Bloomington IN. A close friend has offered us his guest room. Totality lasts 4:05. However, there is about a 50% likelihood then of cloud cover. It doesn't get much better in Dallas. Mexico and closer to the Pacific might be good but one is then trading away the duration!

  37. I saw totality from a remote location in the Malheur National Forest near Mt. Vernon, OR. Secured the site (selected based on studies of maps and the totality center line) by occupying it a week early due in part to all the dire media predictions.

    High clouds certainly played the tease game. Clear when I arrived, then gradually cloudier on subsequent days, until Sunday (quite gunked in with altostratus). Clearing overnight, yay! Eclipse started, and a band of thin high clouds moves in, boo! Then, about five or ten minutes before totality comes a gap in those thin high clouds right where the sun is!

    Completely agree about the corona being much larger than any photos of it show.

  38. My plan was to leave Seattle on Sunday, camp in a WA state park north of Vancouver the night before, slip over the border in the wee morning hours to Ankeny Wildlife Refuge, then scurry back to same WA park as soon as totality was over, to rest & wait out most of the traffic. Getting there was no problem, but as others described, returning was a horror. It took 90 minutes to get from my camp spot to Ankeny (SW of Salem); the reverse trip took 6 hours. Having heard the stories about no reservations and price scalping for a motel room in Oregon, that's probably why so many hit the road immediately afterward, like me.

  39. From Seattle to Aumsville. 6 hours down on Friday, 8 hours back on Monday post eclipse. Normally a 4 hour drive. We took side roads and I believe those were faster than I 5. My brother thought about staying and was quoted $700 for the night so returned to Seattle. It was terrible traffic but totally worth the experience.

  40. It wasn't armageddon in Oregon, but it was busier than you think.

  41. I suspected the travel alarmism was just that. We had no problems driving to Portland Friday, or out to John Day Saturday. National Park/all access pass was good for camping in the national forest, so did not look for last minute motel vacancies. No problem driving back Tuesday although it took 3 hrs to get from Portland to Olympia. That is within the range of the kind of bad day on I5 that is possible on any day though.

    I did bring 2 gal of gas from WA with me, and used it to limp home on fumes rather than have to stop at a gas station on the way.

  42. And yes I haven't seen any photos that looked like what I actually saw. Many photos are spectacular but they still aren't what was there.

  43. Can you please tell us the source of your temperature data for John Day? I'd like to look up the same data for my viewing location (Colton, Oregon).

  44. I saw it from Salem. Fortunately I was able to stay with a friend of a friend. It is my third total solar eclipse, and I can say that the corona varies somewhat. I also saw the solar prominences with a binoculars. Traffic was not particularly bad.

  45. Thanks for the interesting info on the eclipse itself. As for the traffic/armageddon hype, I think it had the effect of keeping a number of folks away from making the trip to OR. In my case I decided in the end not to go (from Seattle) even though I had bought a spot for camping in Madras. I agree the media does tend to hype some things, but sometimes it's just difficult to make a call on how it will go. It would have been my first total solar eclipse, maybe I'll make another attempt during the next one.

  46. We hit I-5 north, at 3:00pm. We arranged to stay the weekend in Keizer, Oregon, arriving Saturday to beat the apocalyptic traffic predicted by everyone. We were originally going to stay another day, to avoid the apocalyptic traffic predicted for our return trip home, to Stanwood, WA. It took us 12 hours to get home. We pulled in our driveway at 3:30am. It was awful, it was amazing, an unbelievable culmination to an unbelievable event. Stopping at the first 3 rest stops going north, once you hit Washington, required parking on the access roads and walking a long way to the buildings. Most of the folks we talked to were making their way home from the eclipse. All of us commented that it was worth the traffic. Many folks just pulled off the road at those first few stops to camp for the night or rest up until traffic improved. We would do it all over again, 12 hour trek included.

  47. Hi Cliff,
    Glad you enjoyed your "first"? of more to come and in a special spot. BUT, the "media" did not create the "hype". There were many professional concerns about the impact of social media in making this a "once in a lifetime" event and indeed Michael Zeiler did some great work on impacts/traffic probability numbers on his site "" that was cited by "the media". We did get up very early with some traffic concerns to drive to Redfish Lake in Idaho (climatology pre-planning months ago) on the centerline, but there was not much traffic. One thing many forgot. Hey, it's Monday, most people have to go to work. So did workday Monday enter into the traffic predictions? Redfish Lake was much more crowded on Sunday than Monday.

    "Michael Zeiler is a designer for ESRI and author of the first edition of Modeling Our World and Inside ARC/INFO." He is GIS professional and not some "media" person, but most of his predictions were wrong and on the low side.

    Let's see (planning on still being around) what happens in 2024.

  48. Dr. Mass,

    Please comment on the hurricane approaching Texas and Louisiana. CNN says "rainfall is life threatening."

  49. Scott...the source of the John Day information is the weather underground website..cliff mass


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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