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2024 Eclipse: New England Weather & Climatology for April 8th

We're now less than a month away from New England's first total solar eclipse in over 50 years. After April 8th, New England's next total solar eclipse won't occur until 2079. As we tick closer to the date, the question becomes what will the weather be like? Early April is certainly not the ideal time for an eclipse to pass through the region.


Springtime in New England often brings prolonged stretches of unsettled weather. This occurs as the polar jet stream begins to retreat northward, well into Canada, for the summer. This change in air pressure can result in more clouds and unsettled weather becoming more frequent.


The jet stream also begins to weaken. Without the stronger winter stream, systems and frontal boundaries that push through the northeast can often slow down or stall, leading to days of clouds and shower chances. This transition time can also lead to increased blocking patterns which, more often than not, put New England on the cooler and unsettled side.



All of this will conspire to try to obscure the sun on April 8th. Just because odds may not immediately be in favor of a sunny day, doesn't mean it won't happen. April 8th, 2023 saw a mainly sunny sky, seasonable temperatures and light wind.


When it comes down to it, we may need to "thread the needle" when it comes to weather systems, should an unsettled pattern set up for early April. Brief breaks in unsettled weather often occur. In the end, New England doesn't need a sunny day, New England needs a break in the clouds for a couple minutes in the afternoon.


One other weather event that can often occur in the spring are backdoor cold fronts. These fronts slide into New England from the east rather than the typical northwest direction. These fronts can produce more clouds in eastern New England than western New England. Marine air can also influence cloud cover and temperatures. For this reason, we give Vermont slightly better odds than Maine when it comes to sunshine.



Looking at 2024 specifically, there is one factor that may work in New England's favor. Springs with an El-Nino influence have seen a bit less cloud cover on average. This winter's strong El-Nino is weakening with a 79% chance of ending between April and June. Despite this, El-Nino is expected to continue to influence the weather through at least April.



With about four weeks to go until eclipse day, we're not going to try to speculate on what the weather will be on the exact date at this point. There is one map we can look at right now for a very general idea of whether troughing or ridging is expected leading up to the eclipse at this point.


This is the weekly mean for the 500mb height anomaly. This map can be used to see whether general troughing or ridging is expected. With three weeks to go, this certainly isn't locked in, but it's a good starting point. Positive heights are generally associated with high pressure while negative heights with low pressure.


500mb average height anomaly for the week of April 1-8 showing positive heights potentially building over Canada. You can see there are currently no strong signals for the United States. This comes after negative heights (troughing) are expected to end March for the east:



Here are some historic averages and records for cities in the path of totality in New England. Areas in bold indicate that record was set in the last 5 years:

City

Average High

Record High

Record Low

Record Rain

Record Snow

Burlington, VT

51°

73° (2021)

11° (1972)

1.29" (1914)

4.9" (1907)

Montpelier, VT

47°

76° (1991)

14° (1982)

0.74" (2022)

-

Colebrook, NH

46°

75° (2010)

24° (1982)

0.73" (1962)

4" (1977)

Rangeley, ME

44°

72° (2010)

11° (1982)

1.01" (1971)

10" (1971)

Millinocket, ME

47°

65° (2021)

10° (1995)

1.69" (1914)

3.8" (1916)

Caribou, ME

44°

64° (2021)

23° (1982)

0.62" (2022)

6.2" (2012)

Houlton, ME

45°

70° (1981)

-5° (1972)

0.71" (1964)

5.8" (1989)



The total solar eclipse will begin in New England at 3:25pm when totality begins across Lake Champlain. Totality in New England will end at 3:35pm when it exits Maine and enters New Brunswick, Canada. Totality will last for a maximum of three and a half minutes, which will occur across northwest Vermont. The maximum length of totality is over three minutes across New England. This will depend on how close you are to the center line.



A 90% partial eclipse (or more) will be seen across all of New England with the exception of southeast Connecticut, southern Rhode Island and the Cape & Islands. Outside the path of totality, the sky will appear at least slightly dimmer across much of the region.


Should it be a cloudy day, the sky will still suddenly darken as if it were nighttime in the middle of the afternoon. We'll launch our solar eclipse weather hub for New England on March 24th. This page will provide daily weather updates (starting off looking at the big picture and gradually pinning down expected weather on the 8th.


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