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Richmond's eclipse forecast: partly cloudy for partial sunshine

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Mostly sunny may be the wrong word for this forecast, but the weather should cooperate with efforts to watch the solar eclipse above Richmond on Monday afternoon.

Despite a few puffy clouds, there should be plenty of breaks of clear sky for taking in the sight of the partially obscured sun — but only if you do so with safety glasses or an indirect way to watch.

The peak of the eclipse will occur at 2:44 p.m., when the moon will cover 86 percent of the sun, yet the whole process will unfold over a span of 2 hours and 46 minutes from 1:18 to 4:04 p.m.

The cumulus clouds that form in the afternoon may be low and dense enough to occasionally block the sun, but probably not widespread enough to ruin the experience.

Otherwise, expect to feel an afternoon high near 90 degrees and a heat index in the mid-90s with a light wind from the south.

The eclipse itself could have a slight effect on the air temperature. We may observe the reading slip from the lower 90s to the upper 80s during midafternoon, but it won’t be a very dramatic or sudden drop.

Thunderstorms could pop up in parts of the state on Monday afternoon, especially along the Blue Ridge Mountains and in Northern Virginia.

The rain chance is very low for Richmond during the eclipse and if storms get here at all on Monday, it would probably be after the eclipse has concluded.

Clear skies are the preferred type of weather for witnessing totality, the darkness-during-day highlight of a total eclipse.

We’re too far north to see it in Richmond, but some locals have traveled to South Carolina, Tennessee or points west in hope of seeing the sun’s corona or watching the stars and planets peek out during the day.

Overcast weather — or even one poorly timed storm — could spoil that rare and brief window to the heavens.

The path of totality is most threatened by cloudiness between Nebraska and Missouri. Mostly clear skies are in store for Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming, and also in the Tennessee Valley.

South Carolina — the closest approach of totality to Virginia — may deal with a mix of clouds and sun, with more clouds favored right along the coast in Charleston.

Smoke from wildfires will linger across the Cascade Range of Oregon, which has forced some locals to evacuate and tourists to alter plans.

Those hoping to pursue the dual thrills of eclipse chasing and storm chasing may be able to do so around eastern Nebraska, Iowa and northern Missouri, if it isn’t too cloudy.

That region has the best chance of seeing some severe storms develop in the evening, probably after the eclipse is over.

The shadow of the moon isn’t destined to cross over a hurricane, either.

The path of totality will track near two weak tropical disturbances as it sweeps across the Atlantic Ocean, but neither disturbance is likely to strengthen into a storm or hurricane in the short term.

Tropical Storm Harvey dissipated in the Caribbean Sea on Saturday after tracking across the Lesser Antilles.

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Check Richmond.com/weather for John Boyer’s videos and updates as the forecast evolves. Contact him at (804) 649-6209 or JBoyer@timesdispatch.com, and follow him on Twitter, @boyerweather.

Meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016. Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

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John Boyer

John Boyer, the RTD's staff meteorologist

John Boyer is the first staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the RTD newsroom in November 2016 after covering severe weather on television in Tulsa, Okla.

As a native of the Roanoke area, the region’s heavy snowstorms started his fascination with Virginia’s changing weather.

Boyer earned his degree in meteorology from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. He is a member of the American Meteorological Society and earned their Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal in 2012.

Look for his stories in the RTD and on Richmond.com, along with videos and forecast updates for major weather events in our area.

Email him your story ideas and weather tips.

Friday Weatherline

6% of Virginia still in moderate drought

This week’s map from the U.S. Drought Monitor continues to show a narrow zone of moderate drought between Richmond and South Hill. Only 6% of the state is affected, unchanged from the past two weeks. The outlook favors total drought removal over the winter.

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