On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will move across the USA, from South Carolina all the way to the Pacific Northwest, at an angle moving away from the equator with time. Houston will see our sunlight dimmed, as if a dark storm cloud passed overhead, but it'll still look like daytime. However near the 100% totality zone, it should be dark as night for a few minutes that day.

The entire nation will experience an eclipse of varying degree later this summer! In Houston, however, skies will still look like day (a bit dimmer), despite 70% of the sun being blocked by our moon.

Beyond the spectacle of this event and its extreme rarity for any given point of the Earth, it's also sending energy companies scrambling back to their calculators to crunch numbers on what this means for solar power generation and overall energy demand that day.

Once street lights and home electronics turn on as if it's night, the energy demands could produce a shock to the grid. The closest geographic point of totality relative to Houston (where it'll be dark as night, with stars twinkling!) will be near St. Louis, Missouri -- which consequently is adjacent to the Mark Twain National Forest. Mark Twain, as many of you know, authored a wonderful book called, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court. There, an eclipse predicted by the narrator (whom was from the future an knew of past events) saved him from a death sentence and launched him into the court as the King's right-hand man. (Consequently, his eclipse also fell on the 21st!) I like to think this is, "his" eclipse.

Can't make it to Missouri that day and have to settle for Houston's partial eclipse? Well, we will experience a 94% solar eclipse in April of 2024 -- which will look almost as dark as night. That's actually not too far from now considering how infrequent these are. (Waco and Dallas will experience a total solar eclipse during that event 7 years from now, so I'd fully recommend the road trip to see what it's like at 100%. Do read Chapter 6 of Twain's book to get a feel for it!)

Here's the full article about our power grid challenges this August, by Solar Magazine!


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Meteorologist Brooks Garner