Will Salem be sunny for the eclipse? Here's a look at Aug. 21 weather history

Here’s the good news: For each of the last seven years, a person in Salem would have had a great view of the upcoming total solar eclipse.

Satellite data show that Aug. 21 has been clear and sunny around 10 a.m. each morning going back to 2010.

That’s a positive sign for the hundreds of thousands of people expected to arrive in Oregon specifically for the two minutes — starting at 10:17 a.m. — when the moon blocks the sun and darkness covers a 73-mile-wide path that will stretch across the country.

Unfortunately, said meteorologist Colby Neuman, the past few years are a poor predictor of this coming Aug. 21.

“We’ve had warmer weather and fewer clouds the last few summers, but you really can’t say much about the future based on that short a time period,” Neuman said. “The long-term average will beat it every time.”

And the long-term average — in terms of whether it’s going to be cloudy or sunny in Salem — is a mixed bag.

The National Weather Service reports that overall, people in Salem have a 67 percent chance of being able to view the eclipse this year.

When you take a longer look back — at the last 20 years — there are a lot more clouds in Salem on Aug. 21.

Between 2001 and 2009, for example, five of the nine mornings around 10 a.m. had moderate to significant cloud coverage, according to satellite data.

Neuman said clouds in the Salem area would be fueled by marine weather patterns that typically come from northwest, southwest and south.

He said the perfect weather pattern — the one that keeps the clouds away — would be a big high-pressure system with winds blowing east.

“When we have winds blowing dry air down the Cascades, it does a pretty good job drying out the Willamette Valley and (blowing away) any clouds from the ocean,” Neuman said.

Occasionally meteorologists can forecast 10 days in advance, Neuman said, but in most cases, we won’t have a good idea of the weather expected until 5 to 7 days before the date in question.

Click here for more eclipse stories

Salem historical weather on Aug. 21

2016

High: 86

Low: 53

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2015

High: 80

Low: 53

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Mostly sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2014

High: 82

Low: 49

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2013

High: 91

Low: 56

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2012

High: 82

Low: 54

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Mostly sunny with scattered clouds

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2011

High: 92

Low: 58

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2010

High: 74

Low: 49

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2009

High: 76

Low: 54

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Mostly cloudy

10 a.m.: Mostly cloudy

2008

High: 72

Low: 53

Precipitation: 0.10

Sky: Overcast with light rain

10 a.m.: Overcast

2007

High: 78

Low: 60

Precipitation: trace

Sky: Overcast with light rain

10 a.m.: Overcast

2006

High: 78

Low: 51

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2005

High: 84

Low: 52

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2004

High: 85

Low: 57

Precipitation: 0.01

Sky: Clear and sunny, with light rain arriving late at night

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2003

High: 90

Low: 52

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

2002

High: 69

Low: 48

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Mostly cloudy, then afternoon clearing and sun

10 a.m.: Mostly cloudy

2001

High: 72

Low: 50

Precipitation: 0.08

Sky: Overcast and rainy

10 a.m.: Overcast

2000

High: 83

Low: 48

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

Sky at 10 a.m.: Clear and sunny

1999

High: 81

Low: 56

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Partly cloudy

10 a.m.: Partly cloudy

1998

High: 76

Low: 55

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Partly cloudy

10 a.m.: Mostly sunny

1997

High: 82

Low: 61

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Overcast

10 a.m.: Overcast

1996

High: 83

Low: 49

Precipitation: 0.00

Sky: Clear and sunny

10 a.m.: N/A

- Data provided by: National Weather Service, National Climatic Data Center, Statesman Journal newspaper archives

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for nine years. He is the author of the book “Hiking Southern Oregon” and can be reached at zurness@StatesmanJournal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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