LAKE MURRAY, S.C. -- It's been a long time coming, but August 21, 2017, also known as Eclipse Day, is finally here.
And the question everyone's asking Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich is "what will I get to see?" The answer, of course, depends on where you are, but Panovich is hopeful that most of the Carolinas will have a pretty good view of this once-in-a-lifetime event.
At Lake Murray, about 30 miles northwest of Columbia, officials are expecting upwards of 200,000 boats to take to the water Monday for the eclipse. According to Panovich, the lake provides an unobstructed view of the sky, as well as a prime vantage point for totality, which is expected around 2:41 p.m.
But while the Midlands of South Carolina will see the eclipse in all of its glory, those on the Atlantic coast might not be so fortunate.
"The coast is the one area I'm worried about weather-wise," Panovich explained. "If we're going to get some clouds, I'm worried the coastal sections will get the worst view of this."
Panovich currently has the Carolina coast expecting anywhere from 85 percent cloud cover in Myrtle Beach to 100-percent cover in Wilmington. In Charleston, Panovich expects about 90 percent of the sky to be covered by clouds.
We wish we were kidding. But don't worry, there's still enough time to leave the coast and find a place with a clear view. But please, if you do choose to make a Monday road trip, give yourself plenty of time. Trooper Bob Beres with the South Carolina Highway Patrol offered a few tips for drivers making their way across the Palmetto State, most notably, pack your patience!
What's happening with the sun?
Panovich wants to make it clear: nothing is actually happening to the sun.
"The moon is passing in front of the sun and we're in the shadow of the sun," Panovich said. "The sun isn't more intense, it isn't more dangerous. It's the same sun we had yesterday, the day before, and even a year ago.
"If you were able to go outside in the sunshine on any day in the last, oh, I don't know, your lifespan, you can go out today. it's not a big deal."
What about my pets? Do they need eye protection?
Absolutely not. Panovich says this one is a bit silly because our pets don't normally stare at the sun in the first place. And keep in mind, the only reason you need eclipse glasses in the first place is so you can stare directly at the sun during the event.
But there is one thing he finds particularly interesting about animal activity during the eclipse.
"It's going to be like the middle of the night, so will bats come out? Will we get coyotes?" Panovich asked. "Will nocturnal animals start to come out?"
How long will totality last?
Much like your view of the eclipse, this depends on your location. If you're along the center of the path of totality, you can expect total darkness for about two minutes and 40 seconds. In Charlotte, which is about 45 miles north of the northernmost location with totality, you'll only have 100-percent coverage for just a brief moment.
"It's only going to last a second or two," Panovich said. "It goes from 97 to 98 (percent), back down to 97. And remember, only take your glasses off for totality. It's only a matter of seconds and minutes, but totality time does change rather drastically by location."
Carolinas cloud cover for the eclipse
Charlotte -- 18%
Columbia -- 0%
Greenville, S.C. -- 77%
Asheville -- 3%
Boone -- 50%
Myrtle Beach -- 85%
Charleston -- 90%
Wilmington -- 100%
Raleigh -- 0%
Greensboro -- 0%
No, you can't really watch the eclipse through your smartphone's camera.
There's a rumor that's been spreading like wildfire on social media lately, and it's really grinding Panovich's gears.
"If you put your camera in selfie mode and try to take a picture of the sun, it'll be a big white blob. You won't see anything," he said. "It's completely useless. Most camera phones won't be able to take a picture of the eclipse. The camera can't focus on the intense light."
Eclipse fun facts
#Eclipse2017 fact: The speed of the Moon as it moves across the Sun is approximately 1,398 miles per hour.— Sarah Fortner (@SarahFortnerWx) August 21, 2017
#Eclipse2017 fact: It will be the first total eclipse visible ONLY in the USA since the country was founded in 1776.— Sarah Fortner (@SarahFortnerWx) August 21, 2017
Totality begins in Oregon at 10:16 a.m. PT & ends in Charleston at 2:48 p.m. ET. That's only about 90 min for #eclipse to cross the country.— Sarah Fortner (@SarahFortnerWx) August 21, 2017