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Clouds or No Clouds? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Monday’s Eclipse

The forecast is dicey, but the city is still expecting nearly half a million people to come stare at the sun. Here's what you need to know about eclipse viewing (and navigating) in Dallas Monday.
Delicate streamers in the sun's corona surround the totally eclipsed sun during the Aug. 21, 2017, total solar eclipse. Observers in Dallas could have a similar view on April 8, 2024, if the weather cooperates. Johnny Horne/Special to The Fayetteville Observer / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Monday, around 450,000 people are expected to head to Dallas, the largest city in Texas in the path of totality for the total solar eclipse. The phenomenon—where the moon completely obstructs the sun as it orbits the Earth—is alternately rare and common.

A total solar eclipse actually happens once every year and a half or so. “However, at any given location, it may be several centuries between occurrences,” the National Weather Service says.

The most recent total eclipse in north or central Texas was in 1878. This area won’t get another until 2317. The NWS says that Hearne, in Robertson County, isn’t in the path this year and won’t be until 2343. The last one the town saw was in 1286, which means more than 1,000 years will have elapsed since the last. That can help explain why the city of Dallas is expecting so many visitors.

The eclipse will begin around 12:23 p.m. and last until a little after 3 p.m. Totality should last from about 1:40 p.m. to 1:44 p.m., per NASA’s estimates.

But there is this tricky matter of the weather. Pretty much every meteorologist in Texas agrees that we’re going to get clouds and storms on Monday. But the type of clouds, and when they are likely to settle above us, is still being sorted out. So far, it seems that thin, high clouds will be in place Monday morning, and there’s a good chance they’ll increase in density throughout the morning. This means we could have a great deal of cloud cover by the time the eclipse starts at 12:23 p.m.

But there could be breaks in the clouds during the prime viewing time—the whole process will take about three hours, even if totality lasts just four minutes.

The National Weather Service created a website dedicated to the eclipse, complete with real-time weather maps and data.

As it stands, since there is still a chance we’ll see something, the city is still planning like thousands of people are going to converge to peer through the clouds through cardboard glasses. In a memo last week, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said that the city is expecting at least a 35 percent increase in visitors the weekend before and day of the eclipse. Hotels in downtown and Uptown are almost entirely sold out. 

The city is expecting parks to be packed. That includes an estimated 8,000 visitors at Samuell Farm, where the city will host Totality Dallas – A Solar Eclipse Festival. The site, in Far East Dallas, sits closer to the eclipse’s center, which means that visitors there (if the weather is cooperative) will be able to see it for a little longer. There will be activities throughout the day, and camping is also offered overnight. A full list of city-sponsored events can be found here.

The city is also working to ensure that traffic flows as smoothly as possible with all those extra people and their cars. To ensure that roads remain clear, garbage, recycling, and bulky trash pickup will be suspended on Monday. Garbage and recycling collection will also be delayed by one day throughout the city next week.

Beyond that, emergency officials are hoping that residents will stick close to home. The OEM asked businesses to consider making Monday a remote working day to reduce the amount of vehicles on the road. Residents can opt for events in their neighborhoods to avoid the traffic. If they want to join in the fun at the numerous events (we have a rundown of several here), officials recommend heading out early and packing your patience. There are also events that can be found near Dallas Area Rapid Transit options—like the events at Klyde Warren Park or at the Cotton Bowl at Fair Park, where Neil deGrasse Tyson will speak virtually, and PBS’s Ready, Jet, Go! will appear in person. Experts from NASA and NOAA will also be on hand to talk about the eclipse and space. 

Dallas Animal Service said Friday that it will also offer some eclipse fun. The department opened the Doggy Daycation program up for the event. Dallas residents and visitors can spring a dog from the shelter for an hour or longer to take on their eclipse-viewing outings. Shelter officials said it gives the dogs a respite from shelter life but also allows staff members to solicit feedback from participants about how the dogs behave outside the shelter. There are 50 spots open, and appointments can be booked here.

Dallas County offices (including courts) will be closed Monday.

While some schools in the area canceled classes on Monday, Dallas ISD is turning it into a district-wide learning opportunity. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science supplied viewing glasses for every student and employee of the district, and Carnegie Science astronomers will visit 40 schools. The Junior League of Dallas provided several schools with solar telescopes to view the eclipse, too. In advance of the eclipse, the district’s STEM Environmental Education Center created a website full of information and lessons for families.

If we don’t get that break in the weather, not all is lost. NASA will broadcast live starting at noon. And just because you can’t see the eclipse doesn’t mean some interesting things won’t happen. During the four minutes or so of totality, it will be dark. The temperature will drop. You may see the wind die down. If the clouds are high level (which are expected Monday morning) and don’t build much over the morning, there is still a chance to see some of the eclipse, but it might be obscured. You might even be able to see the corona. Wearing red or green is your best shot at experiencing the Purkinje effect, which generates psychedelic colors as your eyes attempt to perceive color during the eclipse. 

In the meantime, check your eclipse glasses, make your plans now, and prepare to have a little fun, courtesy of Mother Nature.


Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.