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Eclipse Weather for Oregon, Washington, Coastlines - How Clouds May Help Some Photogs

Published 4/07/24 at 6:35 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Oregon Coast) – There's a lot of buzz about the eclipse coming tomorrow, April 8. And even though Oregon and Washington will only get 23 percent or less of the sun covered, plenty are looking forward to trying to catch it. (Above: Oregon Coast Beach Connection snagged this shot of a solar eclipse through cloud cover quite easily)

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The full totality happens in an arc from Texas up through the NE coast of the U.S., and there will be plenty of coverage on TV. The moon will only take a small chunk out of the sun as seen from the Pacific Northwest, but it's still going to be an interesting sight.

“The duration of the eclipse will be 1 hour and 46 minutes,” said Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI. “The partial eclipse gets underway at 10:33 a.m. when the Moon makes first contact with the Sun. The maximum eclipse occurs at 11:25 a.m. when the Moon covers 33 percent of the Sun's diameter at 45 degrees above the southeastern horizon. The partial eclipse will end at 12:19 p.m. as the Moon exits or finishes its trek across the Sun’s surface.”

Yet the weather isn't cooperating everywhere here, but sometimes it is.

So, what's it gonna be?

In more vernacular terms, it's gonna suck. At least for most Oregonians and Washingtonians. However, head to eastern Oregon and you'll get sunnier conditions. On the south Oregon coast, the forecast is looking good for looking up – at least closer to the California border.

Cloudy conditions – sometimes thick clouds – are going to be the rule of the day, along with some showers.

Yet if you've got decent SLR camera equipment, the cloud cover may actually work in your favor during the partial solar eclipse. More on that farther down.

On the Washington coast, around Westport or Raymond, it's rain on Monday and plenty of clouds, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

For the north Oregon coast and central coast, it's cloudy and a bit rainy, but it becomes “mostly cloudy” (meaning a tad more sun) the farther south you go from Astoria down through Florence.

In the Coos Bay or Bandon areas, you're looking at mostly sunny. Sweet.

However, get down farther to Brookings or Gold Beach and you get sunny conditions. Homer Simpson would yell “woo hoo!”

Those in Seattle will likely just get wet looking up: it's going to play host to plenty of rain.

Portland is similar, but the NWS said it's going to be mostly cloudy – which brings a bit of hope you might get some clearing there, in SW Washington and in the Willamette Valley.

The fascinating and little-known aspect of all this is that clouds can actually help the photographer a little in these situations. Even somewhat thick cloud cover. Under normal circumstances – as most photogs know – to capture the sun you'll need a density filter. The clouds act as a natural density filter and still allow you to snap shots at a high shutter speed without needing a tripod (though you'll probably want to in order take snaps of the sun moving through the sky).

The technique is easy. Point your SLR at the sun through the clouds, look through the digital view screen (not the eye piece as that can still damage your eye). You'll usually see the scene whited out right off because the sun is still quite bright through the clouds. Adjust your shutter and F stop accordingly, and you'll be surprised that you'll see the shadow of the moon over the sun show up quite distinctly.

The flipside is you don't get all the cool little details and the full colors, but you will get to see it in a way few others do – and you can document it.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection used exactly that technique to snag shots of an eclipse in 2012, seen here.

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Transit of Venus shot through clouds / Oregon Coast Beach Connection

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Coastal Spotlight

Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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