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Your carefully worded eclipse forecast

Plus, the commonwealth of WrestleVania.

Welcome to PA Local, a free weekly newsletter about the great people, amazing places, and delicious food of Pennsylvania.
Your Postmaster: Tanisha Thomas

April 5, 2024
Inside this edition: WrestleMania weekend, theater anniversary, Friday Night Lights, wedding bells, and total eclipse time. Thanks for checking in.
A Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.
A state House vote last week pushed which Pennsylvania-made candy closer to becoming the state's official candy?
A. Reese’s
B. Hersey's Kisses
C. Peeps
D. Mike and Ike

(Keep scrolling for the answer, but don't miss all the good stuff in between. Like what you read? Forward this email to a friend.)
Our five favorite Pennsylvania stories of the week.

» One event worth Hulking out over: It’s officially here. WrestleMania 40 kicks off this weekend in Philly. The Inquirer (paywall) has a list of watch parties and everything you need to know about the spectacle

» One place worth visiting: "America’s oldest drive-in theater," Lehigh County's Shankweiler's Drive-In, turns 90 this month. It's celebrating April 13 with old cars, its original setup, and a double-feature.

» One story worth sharing: A high school reunion would reconnect two Allentown natives who were each other’s high school crushes. They just tied the knot 70 years later, both forever young at 88 years old.

» One emergence worth watching: You're going to hear a lot about cicada-geddon in the next few weeks. Just know the historical emergence of two bug broods isn't expected to impact Pennsylvania.

» One cool thing worth knowing: The book that inspired the Friday Night Lights TV show was almost set in Pennsylvania instead of Texas, insider Ernie Adams told Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman this week.

🗞️ KNOW YOUR NEWS? Prove it with this week's Great PA News Quiz: Eclipse voters, ‘Trump Airport,’ and third-party hurdles.
The top stories published by Spotlight PA this week.
» PA's struggle to regulate social media giants
» The high bar for 3rd party ballot access in PA

» Bill targets dark money spending on elections

» Pushback, lawsuit threaten local stormwater plans

🗳️ Election Essentials

» Find key dates and answers to voter FAQs here
» Guides to state attorney generalauditor generaltreasurer
» Guias de fiscal general del estadoauditor general y tesorero
» Races to watch: state Housestate Senate
» Elections 101: poll watcherspollbooksvoting machines
A map showing colored dots indicating sold out Airbnbs along the path of totality for the April 8 solar eclipse.
An image showing fully booked Airbnbs in the path of totality. (Via AirDNA)

The solar eclipse is nigh.

For several minutes on Monday afternoon, the moon will cover the sun like an eyelid, and parts of Pennsylvania will be plunged into darkness.

Several northwest counties are in the path of totality, meaning 100% of the sun will be blocked there. Past observers have described a surreal, primeval, even hair-raising experience in which birds flock, dogs howl, and street lights flicker on at midday.

The eclipse will be less than total — but pretty close — in a much broader swath of the commonwealth, yet the question remains: Will clouds ruin everything?

For as long as officials have been preparing for this event, they’ve been worried about Pennsylvania’s pervasive spring cloud cover blocking the bespectacled views. 

“Listen, it’s a genuine concern,” state Sen. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) said of gray skies in a 2023 interview with PA Local. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

Now that the big day is close, how’s it looking? The answer is "not as bad as some people feared," with a heavy dose of caveats. 

David Marsalek, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, which covers Erie, told the Times-News that sky cover is “one of the hardest things” to predict but noted conditions were “‘looking on the slightly optimistic side’ with only partly cloudy skies, dry conditions and temperatures in the mid-50s” expected there on Monday, the paper reported. AccuWeather is leaning mostly cloudy.

The loss of radiation from the sun during a total eclipse can cause temperatures to drop in minutes and cloud cover and winds to decrease, the NWS recently tweeted. So there's that.

🌘 Eclipse Tips 🌒

When to watch: The eclipse will begin around 2 p.m. and peak between 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Find your peak time here.

Where to watch: Viewing parties are happening in Philly, the midstate, NEPA, the southwest, and, of course, the northwest.


What you’ll need: Don’t forget your viewing glasses! Check their authenticity here.

Erie, Crawford, Warren, and Mercer Counties are all in the path of totality with 100% of the sun to be covered. Erie won’t be on the path of totality again until the year 2144.

In Pittsburgh, a few hours to the south, the eclipse will be around 97% complete this time, and NWS meteorologist David Shallenberger said the forecast was looking “pretty good” a week out.  

“We are looking at about 30% to 40% cloud coverage. We’re not expecting any rainfall,” Shallenberger told PA Local. Again, forecasts are subject to change, and AccuWeather's Paul Pastelok on Thursday noted "concern that a band of clouds will move across western/central Pennsylvania and New York around the time of the eclipse."

Some cloud cover probably won’t be enough to spoil the view, Shallenberger told TribLIVE. It's a question of how much and when. 

Partly cloudy skies are also expected in the State College region, where the sun will be 95% covered by the moon during this eclipse.

State College-area meteorologist Matt Steinbugl told PA Local this week that “depending on where you are in central Pennsylvania, there will be 40% to 50% cloud coverage." Still, Steinbugl noted, using that familiar refrain, “Things could change.”

Mostly sunny skies are in the forecast for the Philly region, where 90% of the sun will slip behind the moon. The Williamsport-area will see clouds, but "won’t be fully overcast," one expert hoped. In Franklin County, on Pennsylvania's southern border, the tone was less upbeat.

The forecast is worse elsewhere in the U.S. and along the path of totality. As one commenter on a post about Texas' "fairly grim" weather outlook wrote: "Cloud cover for the eclipse! Noooooo!!! Say it’s April Fools please!"

Spotlight PA staff
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A quote from a Pennsylvanian that we found interesting this week.

“She’s fun, she’s exciting, she’s inspiring. My students admire her, and I’m like, ‘Well, that’s my hook.’”

Allentown teacher Allison Fritchman on using Taylor Swift songs to teach her students with intellectual disabilities social-emotional skills

Our favorite reader-submitted photo of the week.
A rain garden in Newton Township, Lackawanna County, via Cindy M. Have a photo you want to share with the whole state? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
Flowers in a garden behind a baseball field.
The answer to this week's Pennsylvania-centric trivia question.

The answer is "B. Hershey's Kisses."

A bill that would make Kisses Pennsylvania's official state candy is on its way to the state Senate after passing the state House last week, despite a some lower chamber opposition

The bill is part of civics education project by a group of Bucks County 11th graders. It was first proposed when they were in middle school.

Thanks for reading. We'll see you back here next week.

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan & nonprofit newsroom producing investigative and public-service journalism that holds the powerful to account and drives positive change in Pennsylvania.

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Harrisburg, PA 17108-1728


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