USA TODAY: By Doyle Rice – Mother Nature might eclipse the eclipse, top meteorologists told USA TODAY Thursday when asked about the weather forecast for the April 8 spectacle, now just 10 days away.

The total eclipse will cross over a dozen states as it traverses from Texas to Maine on the afternoon of April 8. Millions of people are expected to travel to see it, which will also attract scientists from across the country to study its unique effects on the Earth and its atmosphere.

The full total solar eclipse experience will plunge people along a narrow path into darkness midday, but people outside the path of totality can still use eclipse glasses (maybe free eclipse glasses) to see the moon pass in front of the sun.

That is, if clouds don’t get in the way.

The forecast from the federal government’s Climate Prediction Center for April 8 calls for “widespread cloudiness and precipitation for much of the eastern half of the nation,” said meteorologist Anthony Artusa. “This, of course, is not favorable for good viewing conditions near the path of totality on April 8th.”

AccuWeather meteorologist John Feerick was also on the pessimistic side, predicting “lots of clouds” from eastern Texas up through the Ohio Valley on April 8.

Both forecasters interviewed admit it’s difficult to say for certain about the weather this far ahead. Artusa said that trying to forecast daily weather conditions this far out is “very challenging, and this fact cannot be overstated.”

And some eclipse chasers say clouds aren’t a deal-breaker. The shadow of the moon will plunge everything in its narrow path of totality into darkness, regardless of whether there’s clouds in the sky, and writer and eclipse chaser Jamie Carter on WhenistheNextEclipse.com advises anyone who has never seen an eclipse to not be intimidated by clouds.

Meanwhile, the early forecasts also have a surprise for people living in the northeast: They show that the farther northeast you go, the better the chances of clear skies might be. That’s the opposite of historical trends for cloud cover.

The April 8 total solar eclipse is an occasion for people to celebrate, learn and enjoy eclipse-themed gatherings and products.

Surprising early cloud forecast for eclipse

“At this early stage, computer model runs depict a developing storm over the Southeast around the time of the eclipse, with extensive cloudiness and precipitation overspreading much of the eastern half of the nation,” Artusa said.

Surprisingly, these early forecasts show that the farther northeast you go, the better the chances of clear skies might be. “Northern New York state through interior New England seems to be the best option,” Artusa added.

Weather.com’s Jonathan Erdman, in an online forecast released Thursday afternoon said “parts of the Northeast may see less cloud cover and precipitation,” when compared to the socked-in central U.S.

The annular eclipse of the sun pokes out through the clouds during a watch party at the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, Nevada

JASON BEAN, RENO GAZETTE JOURNAL/USA TODAY NETWORK

How do I watch the 2024 solar eclipse, if clouds don’t block it?

There are a few ways of watching the eclipse:

  • Get the full experience in person: If you’re in a narrow band of U.S. land that spans from Texas to Maine, you could see the moon block the sun and its shadow cast a night-like darkness over Earth for a few minutes. You could briefly be able to look up without eye protection and see the moon block the sun.
  • Watch from outside the path of totality: Much of the U.S. will get a partial view of the eclipse that isn’t nearly as impressive as being in the path of totality. Earth won’t be plunged into complete darkness and you’ll have to wear protective eyewear to see the moon partially block the sun.
  • Watch a livestream: Check back on April 8 for a video feed from the path of totality. It’s not the same as being there in person, but hey, at least you won’t have to sit in traffic.

What time is the solar eclipse on April 8?

The eclipse will begin in Texas at 1:27 p.m. CDT and end in Maine at 3:35 p.m. EDT, but the exact time of the eclipse varies by where you are in its path.

You can search by zip code to find the exact time for your location.

Where will the April eclipse be visible?

All of the lower 48 U.S. states could see the moon at least clip the sun, but that sight is a trifle compared to being in the path of totality.

Because the narrow path includes or is near some of the nation’s largest cities, expect millions of people to crowd into a band of land a little over 100 miles wide that spans from the Texas/Mexico border to the Maine/Canada border.

Here are the major cities in each state where you can expect to experience totality (note that the included times do not account for when the partial eclipse begins and ends):

  • Dallas, Texas: 1:40-1:44 p.m. CDT
  • Idabel, Oklahoma: 1:45-1:49 p.m. CDT
  • Little Rock, Arkansas: 1:51-1:54 p.m. CDT
  • Poplar Bluff, Missouri: 1:56-2:00 p.m. CDT
  • Paducah, Kentucky: 2-2:02 p.m. CDT
  • Carbondale, Illinois: 1:59-2:03 p.m. CDT
  • Evansville, Indiana: 2:02-2:05 p.m. CDT
  • Cleveland, Ohio: 3:13-3:17 p.m. EDT
  • Erie, Pennsylvania: 3:16-3:20 p.m. EDT
  • Buffalo, New York: 3:18-3:22 p.m. EDT
  • Burlington, Vermont: 3:26-3:29 p.m. EDT
  • Lancaster, New Hampshire: 3:27-3:30 p.m. EDT
  • Caribou, Maine: 3:32-3:34 p.m. EDT

NASA doesn’t certify solar eclipse glasses

In the lead-up to the highly anticipated total solar eclipse, the online marketplace had been flooded with manufacturers claiming to be selling protective eyewear approved by NASA.

The seal of approval from one of the world’s leading space agencies sounds prestigious, doesn’t it?

It should also be a surefire sign for you to avoid that particular product if possible.

Not because the US space agency isn’t reputable or knowledgeable when it comes to all things cosmic. But rather because NASA is just not in the business of endorsing any sort of merchandise.

Online marketplaces are flooded with retailers selling solar eclipse glasses they claim have the NASA seal of approval. Consider that a red flag to look elsewhere.