Some areas of the U.S. will plunge into darkness during the total solar eclipse, which is pretty easy to understand as the moon will pass in front of the sun. But folks keep talking about the temperature dropping, with some claiming the temperature change could be drastic. So how does that happen?
It stands to reason if the sun is suddenly not shining on the surface of the Earth due to a total solar eclipse then the temperature may drop a degree or two, but not into the double digits. According to records kept on previous total solar eclipse events around the globe, the temperature can drop more than just a few degrees. Not only can it drop, but it has in the past during a total solar eclipse.
Dropping a few degrees from lack of sunlight, well, that much comes along with rational thinking, as the sun goes down at night, so do the temperatures. But they don’t plunge 10, 20, or even close to 30 degrees lower in a matter of minutes. So how does the temperature drop as much as 28 degrees Fahrenheit just because the moon blocks the sun from shining during a solar eclipse?
According to Space.com, if you are planning to experience the total solar eclipse on August 21, by being outside, then you will most likely notice a sudden drop in temperature. Data that has been collected over the centuries from previous total solar eclipse events show that there can be a major drop in temperature from right before the eclipse until the area is in darkness.
One of the more notable drops in temperature during a total solar eclipse occurred in 1834. TheGettysburg Republican Banner reported that the eclipse caused a temperature drop of 28 degrees in some places. That’s 28 degrees Fahrenheit. They registered the temperature going from 78 degrees F down to 50 degrees F during the total solar eclipse in America that year in certain areas. One area was apparently the local area around Gettysburg during that solar eclipse event.
The report claims that around Gettysburg, the eclipse was viewed ” locally in clear skies and resulted in a remarkable drop in temperature of as much as 28 degrees!” An excerpt from the article in the Gettysburg Republican Banner said as follows.
“At 20 minutes past 1 o’clock it [themometor] was observed to stand at 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the bulb previously blackened. As the sun became more and more obscured the mercury sunk rapidly, and indeed a chilliness very perceptible was experienced by those who were out of doors. At 20 minutes past 2 o’clock, the mercury had sunk to 50 degrees, a distance of 28 degrees.”
Another record indicates that back in March of 2015, the Norwegian island of Svalbard experienced a temperature drop from 8 degrees Fahrenheit to -7 degrees Fahrenheit during a total solar eclipse. The temperature change will vary depending on the location and the time of the year, reports Space.com.
When you think about it, the reason behind the quick drop is quite simple. The change in temperature that is caused by loss of light from the sun during the eclipse, is similar to the change of temperature at midday to the change just after the sun sets no matter where you are.
The sun goes down slowly, so that temperature change is not drastic, meaning you don’t suddenly feel that change. During a total solar eclipse, that temperature change is drastic. So you feel the change rather quickly.
While the temperature change where you live can be drastic from noon to sundown, it takes hours for that sun to make its way through the sky until it sets, each hour it is most likely a bit cooler, but usually not enough for you to feel it as it is changing. During the total solar eclipse, “the change will occur more suddenly, which is why this is often one of the very noticeable effects of a total solar eclipse,” according to Space.com.
On August 21 the total solar eclipse will cut a path of totality from the center of Oregon to South Carolina. You can check out the times across the nation, along with the states that will experience the totality path on the map here from NASA. The path of totality is about 70 miles wide as it travels across the nation. It starts in Madras, Oregon, in their local time at 9:06 a.m., with totality at 10:19 a.m. to 10:21 a.m., which is just a few minutes of total darkness.
The eclipse ends in Madras at 11:41 a.m. and moves across the nation in a 70-mile-wide path from state to state, with the last state being to Columbia, South Carolina. The eclipse will start in South Carolina’s local time at 1:03 p.m. The eclipse in its totality comes into effect in a little over an hour from the start time, with the event lasting about 2.5 hours from start to finish.
The 70-mile eclipse totality path passes Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
[Featured Image by interlude11/Shutterstock]