Eclipse winds: Fact or folklore?

Eclipse winds: Fact or folklore?
Hokey Weather Fact on solar eclipse winds (Source: Ryan Hoke/WAVE 3 News)
Hokey Weather Fact on solar eclipse winds (Source: Ryan Hoke/WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) -  The weather on August 21 will, of course, impact our view of the solar eclipse but the eclipse itself may have an impact on our weather.

"Eclipse winds" have been the stuff of legend since first reported in 1715 by Edmund Halley, who is best known for Halley's comet.

Eclipse wind has been described as a change in wind direction as the moon temporarily blocks out the sun during an eclipse.

During the total eclipse in August 1999, meteorologists in the United Kingdom observed dropping temperatures and weakening winds.

Under clear skies in southern England, winds dropped by around 1.5 miles per hour. Scientists said they saw winds become more easterly as temperatures dropped an average of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

On March 20, 2015, UK scientists taking part in the National Eclipse Weather Experiment noted cooling temperatures and decreasing winds as well.  Professor Giles Harrison,  an atmospheric physicist who organized the experiment, explained that the wind shift is caused by changes to the boundary layer, the air that typically separates high-level winds from those at the ground.

"As the sun disappears behind the moon the ground suddenly cools, just like at sunset," Harrison said. "This means warm air stops rising from the ground, causing a drop in wind speed and a shift in its direction, as the slowing of the air by the Earth's surface changes."

During the solar eclipse of 1999, temperatures dropped up to 5 degrees Fahrenheit as the moon's shadow moved across Europe. A weather station in Zambia noted a 15-degree temperature drop during a June 2001 solar eclipse

With the potential for cooling temperatures and relaxing winds during, packing a light jacket with the rest of your eclipse gear wouldn't be an entirely bad idea.

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