Marine Layer Threatens Solar Eclipse

I’m a list kind of guy; have them for everything. For the solar eclipse I had half a dozen revolving around the various projects that I’d be trying to juggle during those 4 hours. On the big morning it looked like all my list were going to be good for was to start a campfire as the a thick marine layer was blanketing the horizon and effectively hiding the sun!

Marine Layer

The weather was always the wild card in this whole affair. I’m sure i wasn’t the only one anxiously checking the weather sites once the 10 day forecast was available. And that far out, things weren’t looking good, but as the days counted down things started to approve.

Seventy two hours out things were looking a bit iffy on the weather sites; overcast burning off somewhere between 10am and 11am. NASA’s weather prediction showed an 89% obscurity at 10am and only 38% at 11am. With the peak of the eclipse schedule for 10:18 at Astoria things couldn’t be any more questionable.

I started watching webcams. Every morning there was some degree of overcast. In anticipation of the traffic that the news agencies were predicting we depart Tacoma before daybreak. Shortly after daybreak we reached the Astoria bridge to blue skies.

Hopes were soaring! The following day, Sunday, was the same. I’m not sure I can explain the anguish I felt when I awoke Monday morning to strands of fog slowly drifting through the treetops surrounding camp.

Arriving at our scouted location to film and broadcast our live feed things couldn’t’ have looked more dismal. We were across the bay so as to have a view of Astoria and the marine layer was so thick I couldn’t make out the bridge.

With just 2 hours to maximum coverage I called the newspaper to make them aware that we may just have a live feed of fog.

Astoria Solar Eclipse

We had spent the previous 2 days scouting locations for the feed. Many were close but it wasn’t till we were on the way back to Fort Stevens to call it a day, that we decided to quickly stop at the Carruthers Memorial Park, more out of due diligence then any real conviction, that we found the perfect vantage.

The Daily Astorian wanted the live feed to be recognizable as Astoria. That would put us outside the path of totality but still at 97%. I was torn between whether to head south as I had originally planned but I liked the challenge of doing a live feed, something i had never done before so i agreed.

Plus it wouldn’t affect my participation in NASA’s Globe Observer project. But I was having some serious doubts as I pondered the likelihood on whether the marine layer would actually burn off in time.

I was working on some of my gear when I realized that i was suddenly warm. Standing up to shed some layers I looked up to see blue skies! Theresa already had her solar glasses on and shouted that the moon was just beginning to touch the edge of the sun. I couldn’t believe our good fortune!

For anyone who was able to follow the eclipse here’s a link to a portion of the live feed. And stay tuned to the site as I’m already editing the footage of the project for a mini-doc.

NASA GLOBE Observer

NASA’s smart phone application had those of us participating in the project making observation on the clouds present, taking photos of the sky in the four cardinal directions, and recording the temperature every 10 minutes staring  hours before and 2 hours after peak coverage. I saved my temperature readings of the hour that around peak coverage and was surprise that the temperature dropped 10 degrees F during that period.

In all GLOBE Observer app users contributed an astronomical number – over 105,000 observations from nearly 10,500 users – of solar eclipse observations!

And these are only preliminary numbers!

2 Replies to "Marine Layer Threatens Solar Eclipse"

  • comment-avatar
    Pacific North Wanderers August 25, 2017 (12:03 pm)

    Glad the skies cleared up for you. Looking forward to the mini-doc!

    • comment-avatar
      Steve Weileman August 25, 2017 (1:37 pm)

      No kidding! I’m use to late summer coastal fog, but it was so heavy just before the eclipse that I thought there was no way it would burn off in time. Great example of “Even a blind dog finds a bone now and then.”

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