29. In the very early hours of Tuesday there will be a total eclipse of the moon, visible across all of North America (weather pending of course). From NASA's website on the eclipse, I've pulled this map showing parts of the globe that will not be in the eclipse's path -- the dark grey area. The lighter shades of grey denote areas that will see only a portion of the eclipse.
This graphic shows when the eclipse will start and end (for the Eastern US timezone).
For those of us in the Central Time Zone:
00:33 - eclipse begins 01:41 - total eclipse begins 02:53 - total eclipse ends 04:01 - eclipse ends
I know, that's pretty late for most of us on a school night, but it'd be easy to set your alarm for 02:00 and pop out for a moment to see the great show!
Western North America will be on the edge of a lunar eclipse next December (2011), but we won't have another full total eclipse again until 28 November 2012. This is the only chance we have in the next two years for this spectacular sight.
Having said that, the weather across the western Great Lakes doesn't look good early Tuesday morning.
A large storm system has been moving into California (and will continue to the rest of this week), with a piece of that energy sliding over the Rockies toward us. This energy will form a weak low pressure across the Plain states and bring some moisture northward.
It originally looked (a couple days ago) like the snow would stay south of us. However, recent computer model runs have nudged the forecast track northwards, so it looks more likely we'll see the snow up here.
Because the system is not in a hurry, and because there will be enough moisture in the atmosphere, possible snow totals look impressive -- the National Weather Service is forecasting between 5 and 7 inches across a large chunk of the region. Winds will be generally pretty light, so blowing snow will not be a big issue, as it was in the previous storm. Lake-enhancement will focus on the north shore of Lake Superior, so their snowfall totals may be a bit higher.
Generally, it will not be a large snowstorm, but expected snow totals are high enough that the National Weather Services in the region (who are responsible for issuing watches and warnings) have issued Winter Storm Warnings for most of the region starting Monday at 18:00 for twenty-four hours. Looking a little further ahead, it looks like another piece of energy will come across from California in time for Christmas Eve.
Exactly how much snow it will bring is still unknown, as the parent system is still swirling off in the Pacific Ocean where there are few weather stations to sample it.
Cold air from northern Canada may head our way next weekend, something we'll have to keep an eye on.