Cairns Region Weather Conditions
The Cairns region in November is heading into the summer months and the wet season. Humidity is starting to rise and the maximum temperature regularly hits 31° C (88° F). While rainfall is less frequent compared to February when the monsoon season is in full swing, cloud cover is more prevalent than during the dry season.
Below is a brief outline of the likely weather conditions you may expect around the time of the eclipse. As noted above, the humidity is building up at this stage of the year, and scattered clouds are common.
We will post here other observations made by people who we feel provide an accurate description of the weather and what you can do to maximise your chance of seeing the total solar eclipse at totality.
This description is an extract written by Terry from http://www.iceinspace.com.au website. Please click the link to read more of the discussion.
I was in the path of the 2012 total solar eclipse for a few days either side of 14 November this year (10th to 17th). Observations of the weather from about sunrise at 0535, until eclipse time of 0638 were mildly encouraging.
These observations were from the coastal areas (on 4 days) and from the coast to just west of the ranges (on 3 days). For observations over the 7 mornings, visibility at eclipse time was broadly as ollows:
1 day generally clear skies but with patchy cloud in some areas (probability of seeing eclipse say 85%)
4 days mostly visible through thin clouds but some areas in cloud (say 65%)
1 day much of the area cloudy but some areas with breaks (say 40%)
1 day only a few lucky ones would have seen the eclipse (say 10%) Average say about 50 - 60% Chance of seeing the eclipse would have been improved by some judicious relocation. Some weather patterns that were observed: The weather was certainly more humid than the same time last year. Last year in the eclipse path, I experienced about 8 out of 10 days as good days. Last year there were several days of clear sunny weather. This year there were none. When it was clearer this year, there was usually thin high cloud present that would have reduced the view of the corona a little. The weather along the coast often started at pre dawn with cloud generally off shore and quite thick but typically no higher than about 8 degrees (sun at eclipse will be at 14 degrees), and little cloud overhead. The cloud generally broke up after dawn with the cloud moving towards shore. A low bank of cloud often remained and the sun was above this bank usually by between about 0600 and 0630. Cloud cover generally increased across the sky after eclipse time as the day started to warm. There were often local weather disturbances. On two mornings there was quite thick local cloud over the capeGrafton headland such that Cairns and the southern areas of the Cairns northern beaches would have been seriously affected. On the next two mornings the Cairns area was clearer and there was thick cloud (and rain) in the Port Douglas area. On a later morning, cloud returned to the CapeGrafton area. On perhaps half of the mornings there was some cloud up against the coastal ranges at dawn, but typically well away from the area of the sun when viewing from a beach location. This did not appear to change greatly up until eclipse time. On three mornings I drove from the coast at sunrise over the ranges (on each of the three separate routes). What I observed when there was cloud up against the coastal ranges, was that in the Atherton area (which is generally quite high at about 800m elevation) the cloud appeared to extend further to the west (beyond Atherton); whereas around Mareeba and further north (which is generally lower elevation at around 400m) as the wind descended from the coastal ranges, the cloud appeared to dissipate more quickly. On the morning I that traveled on the Mulligan highway west of Mount Molloy, the cloud had dissipated reasonably quickly such that the eclipse would have been seen at Mount Carbine through thin cloud. These observations are from the east coastal areas. On checking the cloud images for these days, on some days the inland and west coast would have fared better, but there are of course difficulties in escaping very far to the west. One sobering thing is that a colleague of mine who was in the path area for the three days after I left said that it was generally cloudy and rain at times over the whole coastal area for the three days. Currently we have a La Niña weather pattern established and this year has been the wettest we have experienced in Queensland for many years. There is a reasonable chance that the pattern will have reversed and El Niño will be back by 2012. I am not suggesting that we can read too much into these observations. This is just one sample (as were my observations last year). And if there is a reversal of La Niña/ El Niño, this year may not be very relevant. Regards, Terry
The city of Cairns is nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, both UNESCO World Heritage areas. The Wet Tropics area behind Cairns is a mountainous region covered mostly in rainforest and some dry sclerophyll forests. The tradewinds mainly come from the south-east and this can bring a buildup of coastal range cloud during the day. Complete cloud cover with rain is possible but not probable.
View Cairns Region in a larger map
Cairns' mean annual rainfall is 2,015.9 millimetres (79.4 in). The average per month rainfall, cloudy days and clear days can be viewed in the charts below.
The mountains that sit across Trinity Bay to the south east of Cairns will most probably have some form of cloud formation. While totality will happen above the ridge line, the start of the eclipse (1st contact) will happen below the ridge line regardless of any extra cloud cover.
For more information on Cairn's (International airport) weather statistics please see the Bureau of Meteorology Cairns Airport page
In terms of the weather, viewing the Eclipse from the Great Barrier Reef aboard a reef boat is not much different to Fitzroy Island (below). The advantages of the boat are that you are further away from the coastal buildup of cloud and a boat has a reasonable degree of maneuverability in case there are isolated clouds (which are the main cloud forms form at this time of year and this time of morning.
A reef boat , however is not conducive to tripods holding cameras, telescopes, etc. due to the rocking motion of the boat even in the calmest conditions.
Our hot air balloon eclipse trip takes place in one of the drier areas in the region west of the coastal ranges.
Mareeba is a large town 60 minutes drive west from Cairns (see map above). Positioned behind the main coastal ranges, which shelter the area from the moisture laden south east tradewinds, this area is a focal point for surrounding platations and farms growing anything from coffee beans, nuts, many varieties of fruit to cows for milk and beef.
The drive from Cairns to Mareeba is notable for the sudden change in vegetation from lush rainforest near Kuranda to red dirt, anthill country and sparse dry sclerophil forest only a few kilometers beyond. Kangaroos are a regular sight along this stretch of road.
For more information on Mareeba's weather statistics please see the Bureau of Meteorology Mareeba Airport page
For more information on Mareeba's weather statistics please see the Bureau of Meteorology's Fitzroy Island page
Other weather reports from well known eclipse chasers who have scouted out the region in 2011 can be found here:
http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/%7Ejander/tot2012/tse12intro.htm - website by Jay Anderson, probably the most comprehensive report on the weather at Eclipse time.
If you have Google Earth you can download the global cloud map from Xavier M. Jubier's website at http://xjubier.free.fr/download/GE_Files/en/kmz/Global_Cloud_Map.kmz - just click the link, save as and double click on the file to open it (must have google earth to open this file).