Eric Elwell: How nature may react to the Great American Eclipse

In less than three weeks, the biggest show on the planet will take place over the skies of the United States, and if the weather cooperates, we should have a pretty good show right here in the Miami Valley.

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Here's what the solar eclipse will look like in the Miami Valley

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Of course, I am talking about the Great American Solar Eclipse which will happen on Monday, Aug. 21st. While the eclipse will not be total here, the sun will be about 89 percent covered by the moon in Dayton. That should still make for some spectacular changes right in the middle of the day. The sky as it will appear to go from a bright afternoon (hopefully sunny) to almost dusk – then back to bright again all in a matter of about 2 and a half hours. The eclipse will begin in the Miami Valley at about 1 pm and peak just before 2:30pm. The eclipse will then end just before 4pm.

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StormCenter 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs takes a look at the upcoming solar eclipse that will happen on Aug. 21. Dayton will not see a total eclipse, but we will be at about 90 percent.

While us humans which hopefully be enjoying the celestial show of our moon and our nearest star, what may be more interesting to watch is what is going on in nature around us. If you aren’t too distracted by the weird appearance of darkness, keep an eye on insects and animals, including your pets. While there is not a ton of scientific research on how solar eclipses impact our environment since the don’t happen all that often, there is enough to know that you may see some unusual things. For example, you may notice birds beginning to roost in the middle of the day, or spiders beginning to make or take apart their webs to prepare for nightfall.

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini talks about the timing of the eclipse

The director of the Montgomery County Animal Resource Center, Mark Kumpf, says you might also want to keep an eye on your pets. Animals, dogs especially, tend to be diurnal animals. When they sense an artificial night or darkness, their behavior will likely be impacted. Mark says while they aren’t telling people to keep their pets inside during the eclipse, it still may not be a bad idea. Much like during storms or during fireworks, dogs can become disorientated during an eclipse of such a magnitude as we will see. Sometimes animals can decide to venture away when they are disorientated.

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Some other activities in nature to keep an eye out for during the eclipse are mosquitoes may become more active during that time. You may also see creatures your normally see at night make an appearance like raccoons, possums or even skunks. Some of these animals may not just be responding to the change in the light – but also the change in the temperature. Depending on the weather on the 21st of August, there could be a temperature change of several degrees during the peak of the eclipse.

Lastly, one important note if you plan to travel to get a better view of the eclipse, be sure you are prepared for significant traffic. Experts have predicted what could be the worst traffic jams in US history on the day of the eclipse on highway that lead to and from the direct 70-mile wide path of the total eclipse location. So, you may just want to be ready to survive with nature in the event you get stuck on the road somewhere. Just remember, use the correct eye safety glasses to look at the eclipse!

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