Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024: Vermont and New Hampshire

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Virginia Beach chaser Bill Coyle, my brother and his family from Raleigh, my sister and her family from Boston and I traveled to Vermont and New Hampshire to observe the 2024 eclipse. First, here are some images and video.

This video is a collection of views from several cameras during the total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024 over Lemington, Vermont and the Connecticut River valley near Colebrook, New Hampshire. Here is the video's shot list:

  1. Drone timelapse (9x) of the moon's shadow moving across the snow-covered mountains during the totality phase of the eclipse.
  2. Realtime view of the beginning and end of the total phase of the eclipse, with a timelapse of the interval of totality in between.
  3. Timelapse (9x) views of the rural Vermont mountain landscapes during totality.
  4. Realtime drone view of totality. Watch for the town lights and fireworks.

Still frame from the 4K video:

100% crops from my Canon 50mm F1.8 DSLR:

22mm wide angle DSLR still:

Crescent projections in the shadows of trees:

Trip Log: We were willing to go wherever we needed within the US to avoid clouds. Bill originally had a flight booked into St. Louis from Virginia Beach, and we had hotel or family lodging options secured in Shreveport, LA, Dayton, Ohio, Pittsburgh, PA and my place in St. Louis.

Within a few days of the eclipse, cloud concerns prompted us to cancel Bill's flight to St. Louis as well as our Shreveport hotel. 2 days prior, we decided to go to our Pittsburgh option on Saturday to stage for either Indiana/Ohio or New England. By Sunday morning, we committed to New England and were able to get a hotel in Keene, New Hampshire. Instead of going out of the way to Pittsburgh, Bill drove directly up from VA Beach on Saturday with a stopover in Scranton Saturday night. I stayed at my parent's place in the Pittsburgh area and headed northeast Sunday. We arrived in Keene that evening. My brother and his family (from Raleigh, NC) and my sister and her family (from Boston) were also on their way to the area.

We woke up at 3:30am and headed north to St. Johnsbury on I-91. That was the farthest north we could go and still have the northeast option into Maine. We eventually moved up to Lyndon, noting the traffic increasing to the point that we wanted to finalize a spot soon. We opted to go north to Colebrook to hedge enough east against the cirrus deck moving in from the west. We still had the ability to go farther north and east if needed, but that road would end at the Canadian border with no further east options.

We had no real traffic issues going up to Colebrook, getting there at 9am. The roads up there are all 2-lane, traffic was continuous but still moving at a good clip. Meanwhile my brother and his family had flown in from Raleigh, NC and made their way to our spot about 2 hours later. My sister and her family all had schedule commitments on Tuesday, so they were looking to minimize their traffic impacts. They headed to Sheffield along I-91.

We initially set up in a parking lot on the south side of town with a hundred or so other people. Bill has a 600mm lens with a tracking mount, so he needed some time to get set up.

My brother was looking for a rural location, so he found one across the river in Vermont on a mountain road. I decided I liked that spot better, as it was more scenic, had snow on the ground and there were no other people around up there.

Bill's setup was complicated and not easily moved, so he chose to stay in town. Bathrooms were the other problem with staying in town. There were only 2 or 3 bathrooms at the gas station and a couple other businesses, all had 20-30 people in line by 11:00am. Bill said people were walking down to the river or out into the woods to use the bathroom.

I didn't have any big plans for documenting the eclipse, as my gear is more lightning and winter weather-purposed. I don't have a quality long lens and would have had to rent one if I'd wanted better stills. I decided to put my drone in the air about 10 minutes prior to totality and just let it record the landscape in realtime, then shoot zoomed video with my main video camera and stills with my DSLR at 50mm and 10mm.

We had an excellent view of the eclipse, with crystal-clear skies. The cirrus deck was in view to the distant west, but was never a threat to our sky. The sky was much darker during this eclipse's totality than the one in 2017.

We decided to try leaving about 20 minutes after totality. The river along the NH/VT state line had two parallel roads, we took the secondary one on the VT side instead of the main state highway on the NH side. We encountered several stop-and-go backups that accounted for about 90 minutes of extra travel time. The backups at this point were all moving along at 5 to 10mph, so they were pretty much what we'd expected and not really that bad.

Bill had managed to book another hotel room in Lincoln, NH for $300 that would cut the distance to our lodging in half this night as opposed to going to Keene. We all got separated at 9pm after traveling through Lancaster. I encountered another backup at Bethlehem, just before arriving at I-93. Unlike the others, this one was not moving at all. After 20 minutes at a standstill with another 20 miles of backup still to go through Franconia Notch, I decided it would be better to turn around and head east to Conway, then come into Lincoln on a back road from the east. Traffic maps showed this route was mostly green, and even though it was an 83-mile detour, would likely be faster than going through the 27-mile standstill backup through Franconia Notch. I made it to the Lincoln hotel at 11pm. (It turns out the reason for the backup is that I-93 goes down to one lane in each direction through the notch.)

Bill was able to make it around the Franconia jam by diverting to the west. My brother and his family were not so fortunate. They were stuck firmly in the standstill backup on I-93 at Franconia, eventually deciding to pull over and sleep. They did not make it back to their Franklin lodging until 2am.

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