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Early eclipse forecasts: Partly sunny with a chance of showers or thunderstorms

Partly sunny skies with a chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected Monday when a total solar eclipse will be visible in the Carolinas.
Partly sunny skies with a chance of showers and thunderstorms are expected Monday when a total solar eclipse will be visible in the Carolinas.

Clouds could obscure views of the total solar eclipse next Monday, early forecasts say.

The National Weather Service says the day will be partly sunny but with a 30 to 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms across much of the path of total eclipse in the Carolinas. That’s the western tip of North Carolina and the full mid-section of South Carolina.

Charlotte, which will see only a partial eclipse, is expected to see only partly-sunny skies. But forecasts could easily change over the next six days.

Another way to handicap the odds of clear or cloudy skies is to consider past weather on Aug. 21. The North Carolina for Climate Studies, at North Carolina State University, did just that, producing an interactive map that shows how frequently that day has been cloudy over the past decade.

The results don’t boost confidence that Monday will be clear in the Carolinas. The map shows no data points in western North Carolina, but results in the path of totality in South Carolina vary widely.

Clemson, in the state’s northwest, has a 75 percent chance of skies being clear enough to see the eclipse based on past data. But in Columbia, directly in the path, the odds are only 44 percent and in Charleston 53 percent.

Charlotte, outside the totality zone, has a 43 percent chance of clear skies and Raleigh only a 40 percent chance, according to the map.

Stay tuned for more weather updates over the next week.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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