With one week to go before the big event, what happens if it rains during the solar eclipse?
I can tell you exactly. I know from painful personal experience.
When America West Airlines, which was trying to quickly raise cash, dropped round-trip air-fares from Wichita to Honolulu to $199 (with children’s discounts), I decided we should vacation in Hawaii to see the 1991 eclipse. Unfortunately, in order to get into the path of longest totality, and be in area with a statistically low chance of clouds (I had checked), the best place to be was the channel between Maui and the Island of Hawaii.
Our trip to Hawaii went fine. Two days later the big day came. We all got up at 4am and headed for the docks to board the ship that was going to take us to the path of totality. Unfortunately, the morning clouds – which are common in that part of Hawaii – were not breaking as forecast.
The boat was great. As advertised, they had a band and specially equipped telescopes. The pastries were tasty.
But, when the captain navigated into the path of totality, a light rain began falling. Showers are common in Hawaii, but it was unusual for them in that location at that time of year (which is why I picked it). My concern was increasing.
The big moment approached (as I recall, totality was just after 8am), the growing daylight reversed itself. It slowly began to darken. The rain continued. And, continued. On the flat ocean, you could see a hint of daylight on the horizon in all directions but it got almost as dark as night as the rain continued soaking our clothes. We never saw the sun until we docked later in the morning, long after the moon had cleared the sun's path.
Of course, the mood on the ship went from cautiously pessimistic to morose. The band stopped playing. The booze consumption among the passengers ramped up. The crew got a bit surly because they – correctly, because of their behavior – realized they huge tips they were expecting were gone with the eclipse. We docked early.
After all of that time planning, spending all of that money, and hearing a constant barrage of complaints from my children on the way back, I was sad at the lost opportunity. Then, Brandon (eight year-old middle child) turned to me just before we docked and said, “I had a good time, Dad!” I was so relieved – all the money and effort and at least one of them had a good time! And, then, after pausing a beat, he said, “Not!”
My advice? Pray for sun.