Eclipse Fest

Sarah Smart, 7, plays checkers Friday against Norman Rayburn outside Yellowstone Garage.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

The Weather Channel will be broadcasting live from Wyoming during the eclipse — even as the forecast suggests the weather itself may not cooperate.

Two meteorologists from the cable channel, Alex Wilson and Chris Bruin, will be in Jackson Hole from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m., part of a crew of channel personalities scattered along the path of the eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina.

The eclipse itself isn’t exactly weather, but Wilson said it is still a natural fit for the channel.

“We’re not just weather geeks,” she said. “We’re science and nature geeks too.”

Bruin, who previously covered Jackson for the KIFI station in eastern Idaho, and Wilson plan to discuss the impact on local wildlife and show viewers the scenery from Rendezvous Mountain outside Jackson.

That non-eclipse coverage may come in handy if the current forecast pans out.

Up to 50 percent cloud cover is expected across the line of the eclipse in Wyoming on Monday, potentially obstructing much of the fine detail that makes eclipse totality so remarkable.

“There’s no real obvious areas in the state, especially along the line of the main totality, that looks any better than partially cloudy,” said Paul Skrbac with the National Weather Service in Riverton.

And, in case it’s not clear, that’s not great.

“We don’t want any clouds around during totality,” he added.

Conditions are expected to be generally dry during the mid- to late-morning, the time of the eclipse around the state, with isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Skrbac noted that the forecast wasn’t set in stone, especially the timing of the cloud cover, and that there was a little hope for clearer skies during the eclipse in Wyoming. But don’t think Casper or the Cowboy State will be losing out to other destinations across the country.

Skrbac said that Oregon and possibly western Idaho could see clear skies on Monday morning, but that areas east of Wyoming were not likely to be clear.

Wyoming is facing a group of weather systems that make cloud cover likely.

A low pressure system will be moving in from the California coast over the weekend, another system will be moving north from near the Four Corners and another stream will be pushing south from Montana and southern Canada.

Some of those systems will bring moisture and clouds to Wyoming, but if the northern front stops just short of the path of totality and the southern front stops short as well there could be an opening for clear eclipse viewing.

“We’re still hoping we can get that little gap,” Skrbac said.

If the weather doesn’t cooperate, The Weather Channel’s coast-to-coast coverage may come in handy. In addition to meteorologists broadcasting on the ground from across the country, the channel has streams from an Alaska Airlines flight that will be following the eclipse and on a cruise ship viewing it from sea.

“What The Weather Channel is trying to do is basically be your go-to for the solar eclipse: if you’re into it, if you’re not into it, if you’re at work,” Wilson said.

There are other options for watching the eclipse on television or online that may come in handy for visitors who flock to Wyoming for the celestial event only to encounter clouds.

Worst come to worst for Wilson and Bruin, they’ll still be in Jackson.

Wilson has never been to Wyoming and has plans to dine at Trio and talk to folks around town this weekend, before hitting the airwaves Monday morning.

But in an interview Thursday, she remained optimistic about the weather.

“It’s looking pretty good that the problems with clouds will be focused into the center of the country and the coastal southeast,” she said. “Wyoming has some of the better odds for cloud-free, or lesser-cloud skies.”

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