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Weather may play a role in how much of the solar eclipse people get to see


It is, we are told, like you've left the solar system and are looking back from some other world.


That's how one solar eclipse super fan described totality on NPR's Life Kit podcast. Millions of Americans will get to experience that today when the moon blocks the sun. It will start just before 1:30 p.m. Central Time in Eagle Pass, Texas, and move across the country through Maine, and many towns are hosting special events and watch parties.

MARTÍNEZ: Joining us now is reporter Shelly Brisbin with The Texas Standard, which is part of the NPR network. She's on the line from Kerrville, Texas. So, Shelly, where in Kerrville will you be watching the eclipse from?

SHELLY BRISBIN, BYLINE: I am at the Kerrville Folk Festival grounds, where there is a big eclipse festival going on. It's been happening all weekend, and we are right at the center line of totality, and that's where we'll be. There are NASA scientists here and quite a lot of very excited people here, including Russell Hahn Crosure from San Antonio.

RUSSELL HAHN CROSURE: If the weather doesn't hold up, I have a backup plan. I am going to try to find a place, to the southwest is almost ideal, where I can see the clouds from a really far away way, and I would really like to see the shadow approach us.

MARTÍNEZ: And that, I guess, is the fly in the ointment, right? I mean, the weather might not be great to watch the totality.

BRISBIN: Well, fortunately, the forecast for rain has been a lot lower of late. We've been concerned that rain was going to happen. There has been a lot of cloud cover, but for Kerrville specifically, the forecast calls for rain at something like 3:00 this afternoon, and since totality is at 1:30, that gives people a fairly good window. Cloud cover still could cause a little havoc, but I think in general, it's a lot better than the forecast previously, which called for some more extensive rain.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, I know there have been people camping out all over the totality to try and get a view, but some people might try to go, like, right now to try and get a spot and traffic jams might ruin that for them. How are communities like Kerrville preparing for the traffic?

BRISBIN: Some communities, and I don't believe Kerrville is one of them, have actually declared disaster areas, which means that emergency responders have more latitude in terms of the way they manage traffic. So far, the reports we've heard have not mentioned any real severe traffic jams, and so far, that's kind of surprising, but I say so far because we have a long morning and early afternoon ahead of us and traffic could certainly be a problem in particular areas, especially on highways into these small towns where there are a lot of eclipse events.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, a lot of scientists in Texas and all over the place are studying the eclipse to get nature's reaction to it, and science teachers have also prepared students for the event. So what are some of the more interesting things you've heard?

BRISBIN: Well, the NASA scientists are actually here in Kerrville. They're not with us, but they're in downtown Kerrville at a park, both doing public demonstrations and they're also studying the corona - they have instruments out there to do that, as well as the ionosphere. And so folks are getting an opportunity to see what NASA actually does when an eclipse happens in ways that are not possible in other conditions.

MARTÍNEZ: And just to be clear, you need the glasses, right? You need the glasses to be able to watch.

BRISBIN: Absolutely. Get those glasses. Keep them on until totality. You can take them off when totality begins and then put them right back on when the light returns.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Shelly Brisbin with the Texas Standard. Shelly, thanks.

BRISBIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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