Forecasters put the total solar eclipse into a weather model and the result is amazing
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Forecasters put the total solar eclipse into a weather model and the result is amazing


The weather wizards at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have added the effects of the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse to one of their newest, highest-resolution computer models. The result is a gorgeously detailed view of how the eclipse will cause a decrease in incoming solar radiation as it crosses the country on Monday, from the Pacific Northwest to the Southeast. 

Scientists at a NOAA laboratory in Boulder, Colorado added the eclipse’s path to a computer model known as the “High-Resolution Rapid Refresh” or “HRRR” model. They released a simulation of the eclipse on Thursday, and starting  Saturday, the model will start incorporating the eclipse in its real-time forecasts. 

The eclipse algorithm was developed by a University of Barcelona team and shared by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. It calculates how much of the sun will be obscured by the moon at each point. The HRRR model breaks the country down into boxes with a width of just about 2 miles. 

Image: noaa/esrl

As the incoming solar radiation changes with the eclipse, the model simulates how that will affect the weather. The eclipse can cause drops in temperature or even weakening thunderstorms temporarily, since they thrive in hot and humid conditions triggered by sunshine. 

In a simulation using the weather on August 4, the researchers found that the eclipse will primarily affect temperatures by cooling a widespread area of the country by up to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Such areas will experience a partial eclipse. 

For the 70-mile-wide swath of the nation that will experience a total solar eclipse, the temperature impacts will be more significant, the model projects. Along the path of the full eclipse, the model shows that temperatures will drop between 5 and 12 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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August 18, 2017
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