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                   Monday, August 21, 2017

Final pre-eclipse update (4): no Midwest traffic apocalypse, but clouds still threatening

By DAN ROBINSON
Storm Chaser/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Chasing
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The big day is here - and just a few quick points to cover:

  • Most notably, aside from I-25 in Colorado, the traffic apocalypse is not happening. Google maps is all green as of 7AM across the Midwest. The "canary in the coal mine" is I-70, which is very sensitive to elevated traffic, and even it is all green this morning. This means that last-minute repositioning to avoid clouds may be more feasible. I would still expect congestion closer to eclipse time, but nothing like originally feared.
  • Mainly high-level cirrus clouds are still threatening central Missouri through eastern Kentucky. The expected overnight thunderstorm complex over Iowa is creating a large area of thick cirrus that is inching uncomfortably close to the St. Louis area and southern Illinois portions of the eclipse path. Winds at that height are generally westerly, which should help keep those north of the eclipse path - but it is still worth watching.

    More concerning is some pesky midlevel clouds in southern Missouri and cirrus from a decaying thunderstorm complex in Kansas that are both aligned via upper-level winds to head straight for the eclipse path from St. Louis to Paducah.

    Short-term high-resolution models suggest thunderstorms developing in southern Illinois just after the eclipse, which means a congested cumulus field may be in progress at totality time. This is probably my biggest concern at the moment, and has me leaning toward heading for the Kentucky part of the path.

    Skies across the eclipse path generally look good here now, but in 6-7 hours, a LOT can change - especially with so much cloud material so close. It will be a nail biter for sure.

That will be it for the eclipse forecast updates on this blog. Stay tuned for pictures and video afterward (assuming traffic and clouds cooperate)!

25 Years of Storm Chasing
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