Axios Austin

Newsletter branding image

Happy Monday.

β›ˆοΈ Today's weather: Argh. Cloudy, with showers likely and thunderstorms possible in the evening.

🌚 Situational awareness: Look up.

Today's newsletter is 903 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Uh oh.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Central Texas is perfectly positioned to witness this year's total eclipse, but the dim chances of enjoying an unobstructed view are leaving us jittery.

Why it matters: Millions of people are expected to flock to Texas for the spectacle this year, just for it to be ruined by clouds.

  • The next time our area falls within the eclipse's path will be in 2343 β€” we don't know about you, but we plan to be dead by then.

What to expect: Jason Runyen, a National Weather Service meteorologist for Austin and San Antonio, tells Axios no matter where you go in the region, there is a "uniform forecast" of cloud cover.

  • "We're pretty confident there's going to be high clouds over us, it's just how translucent are they going to be?"
  • There's also a slight chance of rain during the eclipse, per forecasters.

The best-case scenario is translucent cirrus clouds. Runyen says viewers won't get the greatest photographs, but they still will be able to make out the eclipse.

  • "The only inkling of hope is that the low clouds scatter out and the cirrus remains translucent."

The worst-case scenario is thick cirrus clouds plus low-level cloud coverage.

What they're saying: Runyen says the irony is that, according to climatology records, Texas typically has favorable viewing areas compared to places in northeastern parts of the U.S.

  • "What's going to end up happening on Monday is the exact opposite."

The bottom line: "In 2022, I was in South Africa for a total eclipse, and it was cloudy right up to the last moment," Bill Nye β€” best known as the Science Guy β€” tells Axios. "It's not the same. I was in Nebraska in 2017, and it's spectacular when you're really in the path of totality."

  • Thanks a lot for that, Bill.

2. Mapped: Eclipse bookings paint the totality path

Share of Airbnb and Vrbo listings booked ahead of the April&nbsp8 eclipse
Data:Β AirDNA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Airbnbs and similar offerings are booked solid in and around the path of totality for today's total solar eclipse, per estimates from short-term rental analytics platform AirDNA.

  • In fact, mapping out fully booked cities paints an almost perfect picture of the path the eclipse will take as it crosses America from Texas to Maine.

The big picture: Hotels, short-term rentals and even campsites have been booked out for weeks, if not months.

How it works: AirDNA collects daily booking data from more than 10 million short-term rental properties worldwide.

  • It looks at properties listed on both Airbnb and Vrbo but de-duplicates listings posted on both sites "to give a true size of the industry," the company says.

The bottom line: If you're not among those traveling to the Hill Country today, there's always next weekend, when wildflowers will still be in bloom β€” and accommodations are likely to be much cheaper.

3. 🀠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

πŸš™ Tesla has scrapped plans for a low-cost car model amid electric vehicle competition from China. (Reuters)

βš–οΈ A preschool teacher who was injured in the school bus crash that killed a 5-year-old and a University of Texas graduate student is suing the company that employed the driver of the concrete truck that caused the accident. (Fox 7 Austin)

πŸ’΅ The Austin bakery and restaurant Easy Tiger has apologized for withholding tips from employees. (KVUE)

4. Social calendar

The writer Ernest Cline. Photo: Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Turns out stuff other than the eclipse is still happening. Here are our tips for the week:

πŸ¦‡ Hear Ernest Cline, author of "Ready Player One," talk with actress and singer Felicia Day about his new book, "Bridge to Bat City," at 6pm Monday by the old Austin American-Statesman building. Tickets, including a copy of the book, run $18.

🀣 Laugh during Ladies Night Comedy show, Tuesday, 7-10pm at Shakespeare's Pub. Tickets are $10.

πŸ’” Head to a performance of "Romeo y Juliet," a bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare's play set in 1840s California. Performances start Wednesday and run through April 21 at the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre. Tickets start at $10.

🎀 Listen to San Marcos singer-songwriter Ashton Naylor perform a blend of country, blues and Americana at the Cactus Cafe. Thursday at 7:30pm. Free.

5. Sun-chasing jets to go

The total solar eclipse in 2017. Photo: HUM Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Two Cold War-era jets from Texas will chase the eclipse path to capture observations of the solar corona, or the outermost part of the Sun's atmosphere.

Why it matters: Aside from this experiment being really cool, the aim is to understand more about the Sun's corona β€” in particular, why the atmosphere of the Sun is hotter than the surface, per Scientific American.

Driving the news: Two of NASA's WB-57 jets will take off from Houston and will fly southwest to Mexico, over Mazatlan, during the total solar eclipse today.

  • The jets are mounted with telescopes to capture these observations, per Amir Caspi, a principal scientist at the Southwest Research Institute who is leading the project.

The intrigue: NASA flies the only remaining WB-57F aircraft, all three of which are based near the Johnson Space Center. The planes have been flying research missions since the early 1970s.

How it works: The cameras will capture the solar corona, which can be seen clearly only during totality. The telescopes on the nose cone and under the wing will be able to make observations of the solar corona in infrared and other wavelengths.

  • The standard laws of thermodynamics do not explain why the atmosphere of the Sun is hotter than the surface, according to Caspi. Observing the corona during an eclipse can provide insights into the physical mechanisms and the magnetic field responsible for depositing that heat.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Kate Sommers-Dawes and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

❀️ Whatever happens with the skies today, Asher is pleased his sister-in-law and her family came down from upstate New York for a big Texas eclipse get-together.

πŸŽ‰ Rain or shine, Nicole is so pumped for today.