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How the upcoming solar eclipse will temporarily change the weather

Solar eclipse
Jongsun Lee
Solar eclipse

Every week WAVE 3 meteorologist Tawana Andrew breaks down what we know and what we don't about the climate and weather here in Louisville.

Bill Burton: It's time for us to take a look at the Science Behind the Forecast as I am joined by WAVE 3meteorologist Tawana Andrew. Good morning, Tawana.

Tawana Andrew: Good morning. We have a pretty significant event coming up in the next couple of days. And that is going to be our topic for today.

BB: A lot of people are excited about this, myself included. It's a total solar eclipse, and we are in Louisville, close to the path of totality. So what do we need to know about what's going to be happening here on Monday?

TA: Well, we'll be keeping an eye on the impact that the eclipse can have on our weather. So if anyone didn't know for a total solar eclipse with maybe those kiddos listening, the moon basically goes in between the Earth and the Sun, blocking the sun's light and casting a shadow on our planet. Now, the totality doesn't last more than a couple of minutes, but we could still see a pretty significant impact. First, you got to watch the wind or I guess in real realities case, we feel the wind. So once the sun disappears, the planet's surface will lose that incoming solar energy, and that will cause our temperatures to cool. Now with the lack of rising warm air that causes the wind speeds at the surface to drop. And we could even see the wind direction start to shift as that happens. If you pay attention around sunset, so see on a sunny day, this is exactly the same thing that happened, you'll see the wind and relaxing and sometimes you can even see the wind direction changing. So that's going to be more noticeable in areas with calmer weather. If somebody has a thunderstorm going on, they're not noticing anything. Once the eclipse is over, then the wind will return to its original direction. And most of the time it's original speed. Okay, when it's gonna get dark, of course, the temperatures are also going to start to drop. The drop may not be super dramatic. But for those of you who are paying attention, you can certainly feel the difference of a few degrees. During the August 2017 Eclipse many parts of the US saw temperature drops of five to 10 degrees. In Hopkinsville, there was around eight degree drop.

BB: That's a pretty big drop.

TA: That's a pretty big drop. One part of the US even saw a drop of more than 10 degrees. Yeah, that that that's a lot in middle of an August afternoon.

BB: Where's my jacket?

TA: I know, right? And temperature swings are going to be more noticeable in areas where the humidity is low, which does not look to be our area, by the way. And it took around an hour for temperatures to return to normal after the 2017 Eclipse. And fun fact for the water cooler, if anyone is standing around those still nowadays.

BB: Of course! Everybody loves a good fun fact, water cooler optional.

TA: The most significant known temperature drop during a total solar eclipse happened in southern Pennsylvania in 1834. Where this is where the temperature dropped 28 degrees in just a few minutes.

BB: That's pretty severe.

TA: I know! In 1834 you know they were terrified.

BB: There was absolute panic, no doubt.

TA: So nobody panic, we are expecting the temperature drop.

This transcript was lightly edited for clarity

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for LPM. Email Bill at bburton@lpm.org.

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