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How to know where skies will be clear for the eclipse

Key Points
  • Clouds and smoke from wildfires may obscure views of the eclipse in some regions.
  • The National Weather Service is providing graphic cloud forecasts for the entire U.S.
  • Also there will be interactive maps and tools with more granular information for specific locations.
A sign placed by the Army Corps of Engineers urges people to view the solar eclipse from the Barkley Dam Powerplant on Aug. 17, 2017 in Kuttawa, Ky.
Getty Images

The total solar eclipse is Monday, just four days away, and hopeful watchers are eyeing the skies for clouds.

Weather forecasts for viewing sites across the country are beginning to sharpen as the day draws closer.

The National Weather Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a graphic cloud-cover forecast for the entire U.S. on Friday, to give an idea of what the views could be at any place along the eclipse's path. The agency will post an updated forecast every six hours at 40-45 minutes past the hour from now until the end of the eclipse.

Eclipse cloud forecast - FERRIS - 170818 EC

The lines running through the map signify the eclipse's path of totality — the locations where observers will see the moon completely block out the sun. The grayer areas indicate a higher likelihood of clouds.

South Carolina has a greater-than-average chance of cloudiness, as does the region around the northern borders of Kansas and Missouri

The agency also has a map that allows users to click for weather updates for any location along the path of totality, and an interactive map that shows the likelihood of cloudiness, based on historical data

That interactive map is featured below, but is also available here.

But clouds aren't the only concern.

At least four wildfires are burning in Oregon around the path of totality, and the smoke or particulate matter from them could obscure the view. Oregon cities such as Madras and Bend are expected to draw especially large crowds looking to take part in eclipse-related festivals.

"I am not sure smoke will be a major factor, unless you are really close to the fires," said Gerald Macke, meteorological technician for the National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon.

Wildfires tend to die out overnight as temperatures drop, and slowly pick up again as the day wears on and wind increases, so they may not have much force by the time the eclipse occurs.