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Solar eclipse 2017: Will Seattle weather behave?

Seattle will experience 92 percent of an eclipse—but will we be able to see it through the clouds?

An annular eclipse—not a total eclipse, like the one rolling through Oregon—viewed from Japan in 2012.
J Lippold/Flickr

twitterEditor’s note: this article was first published on August 8. It has been updated with the most current information.

On August 21, Seattle will get pretty close to a total solar eclipse: 92 percent. When the moon moves in front of the sun, it should look pretty spectacular here; at its peak around 10:20 a.m., the sun will look a little like a fingernail.

But if the weather doesn’t quite cooperate, we won’t see much at all—or we won’t get as great of a view. So how safe of a bet is it to stick around Seattle for the eclipse? (Short answer: After some concern about fog, most locations around Seattle look decent for eclipse viewing.)

Current weather forecast for August 21

Now that the day is upon is, the forecast is looking looking decent. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecast shows “favorable viewing” in most of Washington.

Sunday morning, NWS’s Seattle chapter recommended hitting an elevation above 500 feet to make sure to avoid fog—but as of very early Monday morning, things look much more promising in most areas.

Later in the morning, NWS Seattle tweeted that they’re still expecting some low clouds and fog, but it will be dissipating in many areas.

As of about 7:30, that fog was mostly limited to water and valleys.

Typical cloud cover on August 21

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), working with the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies (NCICS), got a little ahead of the weather game by compiling a cloudiness map of the United States for August 21 from 2001 to 2010—or “average historical cloudiness.”

Looking at roughly the hour of totality for that ten-year period, researchers looked at various factors, including percent chance the cloud cover will be broken, clear, few, overcast, or scattered.

Based on that period’s cloud cover, Seattle—along with most of the Puget Sound—has about a 50 percent chance of being able to see the show.

From the weather station at SeaTac, they predict a 44.7 percent chance of visibility. The most likely outcome based on previous years is broken clouds, with a 30.8 percent chance.

Farther north at Boeing Field, the chance ticks up slightly to 49.6 percent—but observing from that station, the weather is most likely to be overcast, at 34.1 percent. Then again, the second-most-likely outcome is totally clear skies, at 28.9 percent.

In Renton, the prediction jumps to 57.3 percent. Paine Field has even better chances (58.1 percent) but less sun obscuration (90.8 percent).

Those looking for a safer bet without traveling down to Oregon could try eastern Washington. In Ellensburg, obscuration is around the same as in Seattle, but the weather has more than a 90 percent chance of being clear. Down in Yakima and the Tri-Cities, odds are similar—about 90 percent—and obscuration jumps to 95 percent.

Find your own closest weather station using NCICS’s interactive map.

Rain or shine solar eclipse events

Those that want to see some sort of eclipse no matter what can try to catch one of Seattle’s rain-or-shine solar eclipse events. A few places are hosting both viewings outside along with live streams inside, including the Pacific Science Center, the Museum of Flight, and the Pierce College Science Dome.

Pacific Science Center

200 2nd Avenue North, , WA 98109 Visit Website

The Museum of Flight

9404 East Marginal Way South, , WA 98108 Visit Website