Cloud forecast for Monday

Prediction for sky cover (percent covered by clouds) on Monday at 2 p.m., when the partial eclipse will be in progress for Virginia. Clouds could be more numerous in the Carolinas and Georgia (in gray) and the sky is expected to be mostly clear for West Virginia (darker blue). Much of Virginia could have partly cloudy skies, so the eclipse should still be visible.

Blue areas are more likely to have clear skies Monday; clouds are more likely where gray.

There are two big questions left as the solar eclipse approaches on Monday: “Will the weather be clear enough to see it?” and “Where can I find the eclipse glasses?”

It’s a mix of good and bad news.

The bad news: We’ve learned that many Richmond-area stores have sold out of eclipse glasses, and online retailers now have higher prices. Also, it could be too late to ship them in time to use on Monday.

The good news: Some eclipse-watching events will distribute safety glasses on Monday, though they may also have a finite supply. A full list of events, times and locations is available on Richmond.com in the “Entertainment” section.

You can permanently damage your eyes by staring directly at the sun, even when it’s partially eclipsed. Ordinary sunglasses are not a substitute for the special filter of the safety glasses.

Just avoid touching the safety filter itself and don’t use glasses if the filter got scratched.

If you have a friend or family member who already secured a pair of glasses, you could ask to share — the eclipse will unfold over a long-enough length of time that there’s ample time to pass glasses back and forth.

There really isn’t one big moment to be worried about missing, anyway.

Because it’s just a partial eclipse for us, the shape of the sun gradually changes over the course of 2 hours and 46 minutes. It won’t be completely blocked out.

For places that are getting totality, like in Oregon or South Carolina, that spectacular highlight of the eclipse experience only happens for roughly 2½ minutes. A poorly timed cloud would ruin any chance of seeing the corona and other rare sights. Richmond is not in that path.

In Richmond, the moon will first begin to cross into the sun’s disk starting at 1:18 p.m. on Monday and take until 4:04 p.m. to depart.

The eclipse will therefore begin at 1:18, but it just starts with a tiny “bite” out of the sun.

That wouldn’t be the most impressive time to gaze at the sky, especially in muggy, 90-degree air.

The maximum point of the eclipse will occur at 2:44 p.m., when the moon obscures 86 percent of the sun’s area. If you had to pick a 30-minute window to get outside, 2:30 to 3:00 would be the most worthwhile.

Most of Virginia will enjoy sunshine on Monday afternoon — or the slimmed-down crescent-version of sun during the eclipse — but we should see some puffy cumulus clouds up in the sky, too.

Not to worry. If clouds are scattered, we’d still be able to get the gist of the moon blocking out part of the sun but in occasional fashion.

It probably won’t be a completely overcast sky, which is what would truly ruin the eclipse experience.

A pop-up shower or storm can’t be ruled out, but most areas will be dry. It doesn’t appear like there will be any organized or widespread stormy weather in Virginia.

And you may find yourself wanting to duck in and out of the air conditioning anyway: The heat index will likely hover in the mid- to upper 90s on Monday afternoon.

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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