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A cloudy eclipse? Cleveland weather forecast calls for uncertainty

People stand on a grassy park looking up at the sky through paper protective eyewear.
Quentin Schwinn
People are seen as they watch a solar eclipse through protective glasses at Edgewater Park on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, in Cleveland, Ohio. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe.

With thousands flocking to Northeast Ohio cities to catch a once-in-a-lifetime view of the total solar eclipse, visitors might be nervous that their view will be obstructed by cloudy skies. The National Weather Service says expect warm temperatures, but whether skies will be partly cloudy or mostly sunny will depend on morning clouds.

“Sunday night there is a chance of some scattered showers that move through, which a couple might linger into the first part of Monday,” said meteorologist Raelene Campbell with National Weather Service Cleveland. “So right now we have partly cloudy skies."

Temperatures are expected to climb into the low to mid-60s by the afternoon, she said.

“Depending how fast those clouds move out of the area, we might even get more to like a mostly sunny sky," Campbell said. “It’s really gonna just kind of depend on how many of those showers linger in the morning."

According to a post from NWS Cleveland on X, formerly Twitter, the best case scenario is "at least 40-50% cloud cover for a good portion east of I-77."

Overall, Campbell said, Ohio is still among the better places along the path of totality to view the eclipse.

“Pretty much from up here down southwest through like the St. Louis area seems to be pretty decent viewing," Campbell said. “Some areas further south might get some severe weather and things of that nature."

Mark Humphrey
Rain, thunderstorms and gray skies over large swaths of the path of totality are threatening to block views. Here's how to make the most of the rare event.

Not a normal day at the park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park reports it began seeing higher than normal traffic at the start of the week.

“Between Monday and Thursday, this week, we had over 1,000 visitors,” said Pamela Barnes, public information officer for CVNP. “And so far, this morning [Friday], it was over 200. And that that’s up, especially with weather like it's been this morning. We would normally expect it to be kind of slow, but [park rangers] reported talking to a lot of people from out of town. So, they're either in town for the eclipse, or off on spring break, or they're in town for the women's Final Four.”

But at Ohio state parks in Northeast Ohio, the traffic has yet to ramp up, according to Mike Studeny, manager for Portage Lakes and Wingfoot Lake state parks.

Visitation is as usual in his parks as of right now, but he expects this to pick up in the coming days.

“We haven’t seen any kind of influx at either one of my facilities as of yet,” Studeny said. “There are some folks that are starting to come in, but as of right now, we are not seeing any difference in vehicle activities or anything else from a normal Friday at the park.”

Crowd control at the state parks will depend on how quickly parking spaces fill up, and once those are gone, that’s when they will begin limiting visitors and even close the parks.

“Once those lots are full, that’s kind of our signal,” Studeny said. “We’re not going to start trying to cram people in and parking on grass and all that other stuff at that point.”

Efforts to keep the parks safe and contain crowds will be aided by law enforcement as well as volunteer staff.

“We have officers slated for the entire weekend, and we are getting help from the state troopers over at Portage Lakes as well,” he said.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is taking similar precautions.

“We're bringing in some park rangers from other parks to help us with some law enforcement and in the end, emergency response,” Barnes said. “And we are going to close some parking lots on Sunday night, and then reopen on Monday morning. And that's just so we can get people in place to be able to serve visitors in the best way we can.”

Barnes expects a busy Monday so she's recommending locals stay home to view the eclipse.

And for those visitors in the park after the eclipse ends, Barnes recommends taking a post-eclipse hike or further exploring the park, rather than immediately heading home when traffic on local roads is expected to be heavy.

“I think we're echoing the chorus of the entire area saying: plan ahead, come early, stay late,” Barnes said. “We have a little over 2,000 parking spaces in the park. They'll be open and available in the morning until they're full. So that's our suggestion of coming early and don't try to move from one place to another. Once you find a spot, just stay there.”

Des Torres is an intern at Ideastream Public Media.
Mariah Alanskas was a news intern at Ideastream Public Media for the spring 2024 semester.
Janson McNair was an intern at Ideastream Public Media for the spring 2024 semester.