Axios San Antonio

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πŸŒ’ Wake up and welcome to a historic day.

Today's weather: Showers and cloudy through mid-morning, then a high of 85. In other words, awful eclipse weather.

  • See the National Weather Service's latest briefing on cloud cover here.

🎢 Sounds like: "Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden (we couldn't resist).

Programming note: If you couldn't tell by now, today's newsletter focuses on what's on most people's minds β€” the eclipse.

Today's newsletter is 95 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Bracing for a solar spectacle

Kids watching the 2017 eclipse. Photo Bruce Bennett via Getty Images

Cloudy skies and all, it's total solar eclipse day in Central Texas, including parts of San Antonio.

Why it matters: It's been more than 600 years since the total solar eclipse passed over our area β€” San Antonio wasn't even established then β€” and the phenomenon won't return to our neck of the woods for a few more hundred years.

Yes, but: As we mentioned on Friday, clouds will likely dampen our viewing experience.

  • While we might not be able to get a perfect view, the cloaked sun will still cause daytime to momentarily shift into night, as Bill Nye explained.

Catch up quick: We rounded up some essentials to know before you go. But first, check this map to see what time the eclipse will pass through your area.

Weather

Clouds are public enemy No. 1 for eclipse enthusiasts – which, let's be real, that's all of us.

  • NWS meteorologist Jason Runywen said we can only hope for more translucent cirrus clouds.
  • There's no use trying to make a last-minute trip to dodge the clouds, either. Runyen says it's a "uniform forecast" of clouds for the Texas viewing area.
  • If the clouds have convinced you to stay in San Antonio proper, the city is offering viewing events at parks, some of which are in the path of totality.

Traffic

  • TxDOT issued a heavy traffic advisory for essentially every major highway in San Antonio from 8am to 8pm today, so be prepared if you're traveling away from your neighborhood.

More things to watch

Your pets. Animals have been known to exhibit erratic behavior like howling, anxiety and sudden desire for breeding during such cosmic events, according to a study of 17 species in the journal Animals.

  • About 15 minutes before totality, the ambient light will be "eerie or strange," even if it's cloudy, according to the NASA Solar Eclipse Guide
  • One to two minutes before totality, watch for shadow bands, which look like rippling waves on white or light surfaces, the guide says.

The bottom line: Despite the potential interference of clouds, witnessing a solar eclipse and the intricate phenomena that come with it remains a captivating experience worth pausing your day for.

More totality tips

2. Eclipse β€” chasing jets

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

Two Cold War-era jets will chase the eclipse path from Houston to Mexico to capture observations of the solar corona as part of a project led by San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute.

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 Ellington Field 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 Southwest Research Institute.

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.

  • These jets were used for surveillance and weather reconnaissance and have now been retrofitted with modern avionics.

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. Observing the corona during an eclipse can provide insights into the physical mechanisms and the magnetic field responsible for depositing that heat.

Share with a space geek

3. Inside the Loop

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ₯³ A Fiesta-themed mural was recently installed at Pearl just in time for your festive social media posts. (News 4)

πŸ‘½ Nike will release Victor Wembanyama's signature "alien" shoes next month. (Express-News πŸ”“)

πŸ₯Ÿ Noodles and Dumplings, an El Paso-based chain for β€” you guessed it β€” dumplings is coming to the Northeast Side. (SA Current)

4. Airbnb bookings paint totality's 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.

  • 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: Millions of travelers are expected to descend on cities and towns in the path of totality.

  • 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.

5. 🀞🏻 Hoping history repeats itself

The Ellis County Museum in Waxahachie has this banner showing how newspapers described the 1878 eclipse. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Texans had a similar cloud conundrum in 1878, when the total eclipse path moved through a swath of the state (but missed San Antonio).

Flashback: People worried that the morning's clouds would obstruct views of the afternoon eclipse. "But at 3 o'clock the heavens were clear in the vicinity of the sun, and joy was manifest with all the anxious watchers," the Fort Worth Daily Democrat wrote.

  • The stars became visible about 4pm. The temperature cooled roughly 13 degrees as the eclipse moved through Texas, per the Ellis County Museum.
  • The Galveston Daily News said the sight was "indescribable."

Granted, forecasting technology is much more precise nearly 150 years later, but fingers crossed that Mother Nature works last-minute magic again.

πŸ“¬ What's next: Cloudy views or not, send us your photos of the day.

  • We may include them in a future newsletter.

Thanks to our editor Chloe Gonzales and copy editors Steven Patrick and Yasmeen Altaji.

🀞Madalyn has been waiting for this day for four years and is prepared to make the most of the experience with her family.

πŸ˜Άβ€πŸŒ«οΈ Megan is ready and hoping for a great view, but is excited to enjoy the moment regardless. And she's glad her family chose Texas to visit for the big event!