Clouds May Overshadow Solar Eclipse

Chautauqua County officials said Saturday the glasses purchased ensure the “highest quality and safety standards.” File photo

Today is supposed to be Western New York’s day in the sun. But cloud cover and the possibility of rain may steal the show when it comes to the total solar eclipse that takes place around 3:15 p.m.

The partial phase of the eclipse will begin at 2:04 p.m., before the full eclipse at 3:18 p.m. The partial phase will end at 4:31 p.m.

National Weather Service officials in Buffalo were forecasting partly cloudy skies for the county with a 10% chance of showers mainly after 3 p.m and temperatures near 60, which offers a possibility for Chautauqua County to see glimpses of the event. Even if the sun is not visible, the area will undergo minutes of darkness during the event.

State Gov. Kathy Hochul updated residents during a press conference on Sunday afternoon. She advised travelers to arrive at their destinations early and plan on staying late, allow for extra travel time, monitor the weather forecast before getting on the road, and pack plenty of water and snacks for the trip.

Additionally, drivers should never pull over on the side of the road to view the eclipse to ensure first responders can get by in an emergency. Hochul and administration officials delivered the update virtually and at Niagara Falls State Park.

“New York is prepared to welcome visitors from around the world to view the total solar eclipse on April 8, and I urge all travelers to be prepared for a high volume of traffic,” Hochul said. “This truly is a once-in-a-generation event, and my administration has been working for 18 months to ensure a safe and enjoyable viewing experience for all. With our world class parks and charming downtowns, I encourage visitors to come for the eclipse, but stay for all that New York has to offer.”

During this afternoon, a total eclipse will encompass 29 counties in the Western and northern parts of New York. For other areas of the state that are outside the path of totality, there will still be 88 percent to over 99 percent coverage.

For those viewing the event, the state Office of Emergency Management recommends that residents: keep eyes protected, don’t look at the sun without certified eclipse glasses from a trusted source; be prepared for being in heavy traffic by bringing food, water, extra clothing, fuel, and medications. park in designated areas and do not stop to view the eclipse while on roadways, especially interstates, parkways, and freeways.

Over the weekend, concerns over the eclipse glasses distributed by Chautauqua County came to light due to a test done by a State University of New York at Fredonia student on Friday. It was reported, through a SUNY staff communication outlet, that ultraviolet light concerns were tied to the glasses. Those

Further tests done Saturday at the university, however, found the eclipse glasses purchased by Chautauqua County “blocked approximately the same amount of UV light as other glasses known to be safe.”

Michael Dunham, associate professor of physics at the university, reported his findings over the weekend after Chautauqua County officials said the glasses being distributed to view the eclipse “undergo stringent safety measures … ensuring the highest quality and safety standards.”

The manufacturer of the glasses being distributed by Chautauqua County is not listed on the item, which was one of the concerns noted by Dunham. “We did perform multiple trials using various measurement methods and in each and every trial, the county glasses performed just as well as other glasses,” he said.

Those findings at SUNY backed what Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel confirmed after receiving the communication from SUNY staff members late Friday. “Every indication we have right now is that these are compliant,” he said.

A statement issued later Saturday afternoon by the county noted: “We want to reassure our residents that the solar eclipse glasses provided by Chautauqua County are not only certified but also undergo stringent safety measures. These glasses were purchased from Fyre Marketing LLC in Florida through a comprehensive public procurement bid process, ensuring the highest quality and safety standards.

“The product description on the Fyre Marketing invoice explicitly states that the glasses are made from Paper Board, equipped with shade 14 safe solar lenses specifically for eclipse viewing. Furthermore, they are CE certified and ISO compliant, meeting the international safety standard ISO #12312-2. The manufacturing safety information is printed on each product, providing additional assurance of their safety for eclipse viewing.

“We encourage everyone to utilize these glasses responsibly and enjoy the eclipse safely. More information on eclipse safety is available online at CHQGov.com/eclipse.”

Fyre Marketing is not on a list of suppliers of safe viewers and filters on the American Astronomical Society web page. As of Sunday, county officials had not indicated what company manufactured the glasses. “If you don’t see a vendor listed on this page, it does not mean their products are unsafe — with so many sellers out there, it’s impossible for us to vet them all,” the American Astronomical Society wrote online.

“As of February 8th — T (totality) minus 2 months — we are no longer adding vendors to this page. Any company worthy of your business should have established itself well before last October’s annular solar eclipse across the Americas, let alone well before this coming April’s eclipse!”

Companies listed on the society’s web page include: American Paper Optics / eclipseglasses.com / Eclipser; Flip’n Shades (clip-ons for baseball caps);Halo Eclipse Spectacles; Celestial Optical (EclipseGuard glasses | SolarShield sheets); Grafix Plastics (sheets & rolls, wholesale only); DayStar Filters; American PaperWear (Solar Rollens viewers); Seymour Solar (Hyperion sheets); Rainbow Symphony / Eclipse Shades and Thousand Oaks Optical.

The next total solar eclipse that will be visible from the contiguous U.S. will not be until August 2044.


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