Gathering clouds to put eclipse in cirrus trouble

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The Independent Online
AFTER MONTHS of hype, Wednesday's solar eclipse threatens to be a monumental anti-climax. The Meteorological Office said yesterday the once-in-a-lifetime celestial phenomenon will almost certainly be obscured by cloud.

Weather forecasts for the West Country, prime site for eclipse junkies, are the direst. In west Cornwall, where the period of totality - when the sun is fully eclipsed - will last longest, the chances of viewing it are 20 per cent. In east Cornwall and west Devon, the chances are 20 to 30 per cent. They rise to a 40 per cent elsewhere, with an 80 per cent chance in the South-east.

So at the appointed hour - 11.11am on the11th of August - the skies will darken and the birds will cease to sing. But the rare spectacle of the shadow of the moon sweeping across the sun will probably remain elusive.All the signs are that eclipse-mania has been over-rated. By yesterday, only one-tenth of the 750,000 extra tourists expected to flood into Cornwall had arrived, and fears of gridlock in the West Country have proved unfounded. Fewer than 100 people booked at the Cornwall Eclipse 99 site at the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge, which has capacity for 7,000.

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