April 2024 total solar eclipse: Where to avoid clouds on eclipse day

On April 8, the total solar eclipse will pass Mexico, the US and Canada.

April 1, 2024, 5:02 AM

"Eclipse Across America," will air live Monday, April 8, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on ABC, ABC News Live, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Disney+ and Hulu as well as network social media platforms.

North America's April 2024 total solar eclipse will cast a historic shadow across parts of the U.S., but even in the path of totality, weather conditions could cloud your view.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth and, for a short time, completely blocks the face of the sun, according to NASA. The path of totality is how the agency refers to the specific locations on Earth that fall in the center of the moon's shadow.

On Monday, April 8, the total solar eclipse will pass over Mexico, the United States, and Canada, according to NASA. The agency reports another total solar eclipse will not return to North America for 20 years, making this natural phenomenon a must-see event.

"You want to avoid any type of cloud, if you can," Fred Espenak, a former astrophysicist from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and author of "Road Atlas for the Total Solar Eclipse of 2024," told ABC News of eclipse day.

"Let's say it's on a sunny day with some puffy cumulus clouds around. All you need is for one of those clouds to be in front of the sun and you've missed the total eclipse. So, you're really looking for a place with as few clouds as possible," Espenak said.

PHOTO: India Witnesses Annular Solar Eclipse 2020
A view of the sun partially covered by the moon during a solar eclipse, June 21, 2020, in Jaipur, India.
Hindustan Times via Getty Images

In the US, the path of totality begins in Texas and will travel through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Small parts of Tennessee and Michigan will also experience the total solar eclipse, according to NASA.

Espenak suggests that viewing the eclipse in the southern parts of the US will yield the best chances for clear skies.

"The further south you are, the better the long-term weather prospects are probably going to be," Espenak said. "But we really can't tell on eclipse day because I've seen satellite maps over the past 20 years of data taken during April 8. And every place along the eclipse path is clear on some days and cloudy on others. More frequently, it's clear in the southern states versus the northern."

The National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) created a U.S. Climate Normals-based interactive map to show the average heat index, temperature, dewpoint, wind chill and obscuration levels across the path of totality in the U.S.

Based on the map's data, the top three areas with the highest likelihood of clear skies are:

  1. Texas
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Southeast Missouri

While it's still too early to provide specific cloud cover forecasts for April 8, meteorologists can look at past weather data and climatology to provide general guidance on what specific locations can typically expect this time of year.

In early April, for locations along the path of totality, average cloud coverage during the afternoon hours typically increases the farther north and east you go.

Average cloud coverage on April 8, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • Dallas, Texas: 54% mostly cloudy or overcast, 46% clear to partly cloudy skies
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: 51% mostly cloudy or overcast, 49% clear to partly cloudy skies
  • Indianapolis, Indiana: 66% mostly cloudy or overcast, 34% clear to partly cloudy skies
  • Buffalo, New York: 67% mostly cloudy or overcast, 33% clear to partly cloudy skies

"I think seeing a total eclipse is something that should be on everybody's bucket list and this April is just a golden opportunity," Espenak said, noting that eclipse viewing is not just for scientists and astronomers, but for everyone.

"It's an incredible event that will be something that people will remember for their entire lives," Espenak continued. They'll be telling their grandchildren about the total eclipse they saw in April of 2024, if they managed to get into the path of totality and have some good weather."

"So I wish everybody fair skies next April," Espenak said.

ABC News' Dan Peck contributed to this report.

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