The good news: Forecasters are now predicting sunny skies for the eclipse. The bad news: wildfire smoke from Montana and Idaho is creating a haze over Wyoming.
Nearly 30 active fires were burning across Montana on Sunday morning, sending an acrid haze down over the Cowboy State.
The forecast has cleared up in recent days, but the amount of smoke is hard to predict, said Paul Skrbac, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service in Riverton.
“Right now we’re look at sunny to mostly sunny skies,” he said. “We are looking at less cloud cover than we’ve been forecasting in the last couple days. The main thing we’re concerned about is the smoke.”
On the upside, the amount of smoke could make the eclipse a more brilliant experience, similar to a hazy sunset that burns bright orange, Skrbac said.
“It could make it more spectacular early on, but could maybe hamper some finer details during those final minutes of totality,” he said.
There’s likely to be less smoke west of the Continental Divide, than the eastern side of the state, he said.
“It’s a little of an unknown on how much smoke will come down,” he said.
One rogue band of high cirrus cloud cover above the Wind River Basin could be a problem for some folks in the area. Otherwise, the Cowboy State is looking at a sunny day.
City officials predict more than 35,000 people will descend on Casper by Monday morning to view the total eclipse. Tens of thousands more are expected in other part of Wyoming including Grand Teton, Fremont County and Glendo.