Weather

The smoke is clearing, but clouds may impact view of eclipse in some parts of Idaho

In this photo from Aug. 1, 2008, the moon passes in front of the sun during a total solar eclipse. The cross of St. Basil’s Cathedral is visible at left in Moscow’s Red Square.
In this photo from Aug. 1, 2008, the moon passes in front of the sun during a total solar eclipse. The cross of St. Basil’s Cathedral is visible at left in Moscow’s Red Square. AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

The smoky haze in the skies over Boise from wildfires around the Northwest has largely cleared — and forecasts show weather conditions should be good for viewing the eclipse in the Treasure Valley on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

But clouds could be a factor in other parts of the state, including Stanley and Idaho Falls.

“The farther east you go, the more cloudy it will be,” said Josh Smith, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Boise.

The Weather Service is fielding a lot of calls from people planning to be in Idaho for the eclipse — there’s a lot of concern about smoke and clouds.

“Someone called from London yesterday,” Smith said, noting that the person wasn’t yet sure where in Idaho they were going to go to view the eclipse.

Forecast models for the day of the eclipse show 50 percent cloud cover in Idaho Falls, Pocatello and Burley; 40 percent in Hailey, Sun Valley and Stanley; 20 percent in Boise; and 10 percent in Weiser.

AAA Idaho expects up to 500,000 visitors to Idaho for the eclipse, and about 20,000 are believed to be headed to the small town of Weiser on the Idaho-Oregon border.

Wildfire smoke from Northwest fires reduced the visibility in Boise to less than 2 miles on Aug. 5. The smoke was carried into the Treasure Valley by winds out of the northwest, from as far away as British Columbia.

The good news: The 52,500-acre Cinder Butte Fire, which was sending a lot of smoke into Boise, is 90 percent contained. That fire is in Oregon, between Burns and Bend. Also, the 55,500-acre Powerline Fire near Pocatello in East Idaho is 100 percent contained.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s real-time air monitoring shows that air quality throughout Idaho is good on Wednesday, though there are a few places that are showing moderate levels of pollution.

There’s a yellow air quality alert — which means moderate pollution levels — in effect for Thursday, but that’s because of ozone levels, said Michael Toole, regional airshed manager for IDEQ.

But air quality can change quickly during wildfire season. The National Interagency Fire Center last week raised preparedness to its top level due to concerns about hundreds of new fires sparked by thunderstorms in the West.

Smith said forecasts show a weather pattern change for the Treasure Valley on Saturday. The flow of air aloft will shift from the northwest to the southwest and is expected to stay in place through Monday.

“Come Sunday night, we could start seeing some clouds and showers along the Nevada border,” he said.

That moisture from the south could bring clouds in to parts of eastern and central Idaho. Forecasters believe that it will bypass the Treasure Valley.

Temperatures on Monday will vary a lot, depending on where you’re viewing the eclipse. Here are the lows/highs for that day: Boise, 61/92; Weiser, 60/89; Stanley, 37/71).

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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