Final Solar Eclipse Thoughts

| August 21, 2017 @ 6:56 am

The amount of bad information concerning today’s event is scary. Here are some notes this morning to set the record straight.

*A total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. today from the Pacific to the Atlantic for the first time in 99 years. Understand, there have been 26 solar eclipses visible over parts of the U.S. prior to today since 1900, including years like 1979 and 1984, but those were either annular eclipses, or not visible coast to coast.

*The sun is no different today than yesterday. It will just be blocked by the moon for a while (for the northern half of Alabama, the eclipse runs from Noon to 3pm, with the peak coming around 1:30 when 90-97 percent of the sun will be covered). The path of totality is a bit north of Alabama, and includes part of Tennessee.

*Permanent damage to the retina has been shown to occur in ~100 seconds if you stare into the sun on ANY day, and the same is true today. The difference is that you have a reason for staring at the sun for a long period of time today due to the eclipse.

*If you want to see the eclipse directly, you need ISO or CE approved glasses, or welders glass of shade 12 or higher. There are many “indirect” ways listed on the NASA site as well. Your expensive sunglasses do NOT offer protection.

*The “selfie mode” idea is all over social media and some TV newscasts. I defer to physicians on this one, and they say no. Details here.

*If you don’t have any interest in the eclipse, just go about your usual routine. It will be a tad darker around 1:30, but many won’t even notice that in Alabama. The main effect is to the north.

*Temperatures will NOT drop 20 degrees (like some FB posts claim). Maybe a degree or two across North Alabama, but on a hot, humid August day you won’t notice it. In the path of totality, some places could drop 5-10 degrees at most for a very brief time.

*Your pets will be fine. Your toilets will flush, and smart phones will work. You won’t miss a text message and you can get on the “tweeter”. If you are pregnant, your unborn child won’t be harmed if you walk outside today, and Taco Bell will be open.

*ABC 33/40 will have the entire eclipse live on TV; it will also be streamed on our apps, web site, and Facebook live. I will be watching it with some students at Berry Middle School in Hoover.

I just ask that you don’t share idiotic, false Facebook posts. Speaking of that, here is another one…

*Get all your questions answered on this great NASA site.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the day. Next one for our part of the world comes on April 8, 2024…

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James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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