Eclipse passes Seattle area, turns day into night across the U.S.

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

SEATTLE - Skies darkened in Western Washington mid-morning Monday – as thousands looked up to the skies for the passing partial eclipse. It was on the edge of the total solar eclipse that crossed America coast to coast for the first time in nearly 100 years.

In the Northwest, sky-gazers watched the total eclipse pass through central Oregon, where nearly 1 million visitors gathered in campgrounds, state parks and festivals to gaze in awe at the celestial event amid some of state’s most beautiful landscapes.

Related: What caused the cool shadows before and after the eclipse?

But hundreds in Western Washington stayed in state as the sun, moon, and planet earth aligned. The Seattle area got a partial solar eclipse, when the moon obscured the sun by nearly 92 percent.

After leaving the Northwest, the shadow of the moon traveled a path over an hour to the Atlantic Ocean. Here's what we saw. 

When did it pass the northwest?

The eclipse started just after 9 a.m. in Oregon, and it peaked in Seattle around 10:20 a.m., with 92 percent of the sun obscured by the moon.

Sky got dark. Temperature dropped. Then ... otherworldly. Image from Madras, Oregon by KIRO 7 News crews.

KIRO 7 PinPoint meteorologist Morgan Palmer traveled to Madras, Oregon, for a viewing festival that saw a total eclipse with total darkness that lasted around two minutes.

>> RELATED: Photos show the progressing Total Solar Eclipse from the path of totality in Madras, Oregon. 

What did the partial eclipse to look like in Seattle?

A great darkening of the sky occurred during the peak on Monday.

>> PHOTOS: Total solar eclipse passes over the United States

“It is common to hear birds chirping and going to roost in the middle of the day because they suddenly think it’s dusk. The temperature could also actually decrease a few degrees during the eclipse in areas of totality and [places] close like we are,” Palmer said.

Scroll down to watch coverage, and keep scrolling below the video to read more.

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What happened after the eclipse passed Seattle? 

The shadow — a corridor just 60 to 70 miles (96 to 113 kilometers) wide — came ashore in Oregon and then traveled diagonally across the heartland to South Carolina, with darkness from the totality lasting only about two to three wondrous minutes in any one spot.

Millions of Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.
 
With 200 million people within a day's drive from the path of totality, towns and parks saw big crowds. Skies were clear along most of the route, to the relief of those who feared cloud cover would spoil this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
 
 
The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or Earth's poles. This is the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.
 

Why didn't Washington get a total eclipse?

Eclipses happen when the moon in orbit around the Earth, moves between the sun and Earth, casting a shadow onto our planet.

The totality – meaning complete darkness – only reaches some cities because of the geometry of the Earth and moon and how the moon’s shadow moves at a constant rate.

>> See an interactive map here

NASA’s path of totality maps showed a crisply defined, 70-mile-wide path where the moon blocked 100 percent of the sun.

That totality reached Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PST, and will ended in South Carolina at 11:49 p.m. PST, which is about an hour and a half time frame of crossing the country. Places nearby the path of the total eclipse, such as Washington, experienced a partial eclipse.

The science community called the eclipse the astronomical event of decade, partially because the total eclipse crossed through the middle of the country.

The next total solar eclipsein the United States will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.

How's traffic in the northwest? 

Now that the show's over, it's time to worry about getting home.

Interstate 5 near Salem, Oregon, had bumper-to-bumper traffic almost immediately after the solar
 eclipse reached its maximum level of awesome. Traffic was also heavy heading from central Oregon to Portland.

The Washington Department of Transportation said in a tweet: "Returning from Oregon now? Good luck. It's really nasty."

The Oregon Department of Transportation has spent days warning eclipse viewers to stagger their departure times, and not all leave at once.

Meanwhile, Idaho State Police are reporting that traffic remains at a standstill in eastern Idaho along both U.S. 20 south of Ashton and U.S. 26 going into Wyoming. Officials are encouraging drivers to be patient as crowds disperse. 

Here's a look at what the 1979 eclipse looked like in Seattle:

The last time the northwest saw a total eclipse was in 1979. Watch video of that below. 

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