Economic Policy • Analysis
The next eclipse is on Mars
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Total solar eclipse weather forecast as of Aug. 18

The eclipse is just three days away, and our confidence is growing! We wish that it could be clear across the entire U.S. for this awesome event, but unfortunately there will be clouds in many places, including along the path of totality.

Forecast notes

Overall forecast confidence: Medium

  • Intermountain West still looks like the best viewing conditions, but the area from St. Louis to Nashville is a close second
  • South Carolina is starting to trend cloudier
  • The Upper Midwest has been consistently cloudy in all of our forecasts, and that hasn’t changed today

Still need a pair of eclipse glasses? Here’s where to find them. (Maybe.)

Local forecasts

Forecast confidence: Medium to high
Corvallis, Ore.: Morning fog likely to burn off in time for good view
Madras, Ore.: Mostly clear but light smoke haze possible
Rexburg, Idaho: Scattered clouds, light haze
Casper, Wyo.: Scattered clouds, little interference

Forecast confidence: Medium
Grand Island, Neb.: Greatest risk area for mostly cloudy conditions
St. Joseph, Mo.: Partly cloudy, frequent interference possible
St.  Louis: Partly cloudy, occasional interference possible
Carbondale, Ill.: Scattered clouds, limited interference
Hopkinsville, Ky.: Scattered clouds, limited interference
Nashville: Scattered clouds, limited interference

Forecast confidence: Low to medium
Greenville, S.C.: Partly cloudy, occasional interference possible
Columbia, S.C.: Partly cloudy, occasional interference a notable concern
Charleston: Partly to mostly cloudy, frequent interference possible

Solar eclipse play-by-play: Exactly what you’ll see on the big day in the path of totality

Also notable: We are well-within range of the best global forecast models, including the GFS. This is the cloud cover that model is predicting as of Thursday.

In this graphic, clouds are shown in blue. It doesn’t exactly match what we’ve illustrated above. That’s because these are just single predictions by individual models; the Capital Weather Gang forecast takes into account all the models’ predictions as well as what we know about typical August conditions. So, as always, take these with a grain of salt.

Average weather conditions for Aug. 21

The timing of the eclipse is ideal, at least for the West. It begins just after 10 a.m. local time on the West Coast, which is usually enough time to burn off the fog that often occurs there.

The intermountain areas sometimes see thunderstorms bubble up in the afternoons during this time of year. These are associated with the Southwest monsoon, a period of increased thunderstorms and rain during the late summer and early fall. But the eclipse passes through this region around noon, before most of the storms develop, so the storm risk should be low there.

More eclipse coverage from The Washington Post

Clouds often pop up along the rest of the path throughout the day simply because of warmth and moisture. Those two things combined lead to rising air, which creates clouds. So the cloud risk gets greater the farther east you go. On top of that, South Carolina will see totality the latest in the day — after 2:30 p.m.

NASA created the map below, which shows how, on average, the best chance of clear skies Aug. 21 focuses in western areas, and the chance of cloud cover increases as you head east.

Additional cloud cover resources:

Jason Samenow contributed to this post.

Capital Weather Gang's Angela Fritz breaks down what will happen when a total solar eclipse crosses the U.S. on Aug. 21. (Video: Claritza Jimenez, Daron Taylor, Angela Fritz/The Washington Post)