As the total solar eclipse approaches, one question has been frequent among Hoosiers: What will the weather be?

Meteorologists do not yet know the exact forecast for April 8, but historical data indicates there is a high chance of cloud cover.

Much of central and southern Indiana is along the path of totality for the April 8 eclipse, including Johnson County. A partial eclipse will take place from 1:50 to 4:23 p.m., with totality being from approximately 3:05:52 to 3:09:54 p.m. in the Franklin area, which is among the top viewing spots for the eclipse as it has one of the longest periods of totality at 4 minutes and 2 seconds.

This type of solar eclipse is the only one where people can momentarily remove their eclipse glasses for a brief time when the moon is completely blocking the sun.

Eclipse preparations have been underway for months, but one factor officials cannot control is the weather. Early forecasts from outlets like AccuWeather show sunshine and patchy clouds on April 8, while others such as The Weather Channel do not have conditions available yet.

The forecast is subject to change, as cloud forecasts aren’t reliable this far in advance, meteorologists say. But historical data can give some indication of what to possibly expect.

April has historically been rainy for Indiana. The state averages about 4.3 inches of precipitation during the month, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.

For Indianapolis itself, the normal precipitation for April 8 is 0.13 inches. The record precipitation is 2.15 inches in 1873, while the record for snowfall is 2.7 inches in 1957, the weather service says.

The chances of cloudiness are even higher, with data from the period showing no mention of the word “sunny” at all. There are five mentions “fair,” which is defined as a sky with less than three-eighths cloud cover, three mentions of partly cloudy, six mentions of mostly cloudy and 10 mentions of cloudy, according to data from WeatherUnderground.

Climatologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have created a map showing expected cloud cover between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. April 8, based on data from the first 15 days of the month from 1979-2022. The map shows a 60-70% chance of cloud cover that day.

An interactive map created by NOAA shows Indianapolis has a 37.2% chance of eclipse viewability. The same map also shows overcast skies being more frequent.

As for temperatures, high temperatures in Indiana have ranged from 83 in 2001 to 38 degrees in 2007. The normal high temperature on April 8 is 61 degrees, data shows.

In Indiana, there have been seven instances of severe weather on April 8 since 1950 — three of which have occurred since 2000. Flooding and flash flooding occurred in 2000; hail, damaging winds and flash flooding occurred in 2015; and hail damaging winds and a tornado took place in 2020, according to the weather service.

While the eclipse day forecast is still up in the air, local officials are planning for contingencies when it comes to their planned events.

Franklin Parks and Recreation will treat their April 8 eclipse festival like they do other events at the Amphitheater at Youngs Creek Park. They will “continually monitor” the weather and advise people of any incoming weather and to seek shelter as necessary, said Chip Orner, parks and recreation director.

The department, along with the city, will also post updates on their respective Facebook pages, said Ken Kosky, executive director of Festival Country Indiana, the county’s visitor and tourism bureau. Franklin’s event is expected to continue rain or shine, he said.

Many of the nearly 50 event organizers throughout the county are expected to have a similar plan as well, Kosky said.

Greenwood is taking a similar route as Franklin. Parks officials are monitoring the weather leading up to April 7, when an event is planned at Craig Park, and April 8. If inclement weather is a possibility, they will advise attendees accordingly via social media or online, said Rob Taggart, parks and recreation executive director.

Even if it ends up cloudy, the eclipse will still be an enjoyable experience since it “still results in complete darkness during the day and causes changes in the behavior of animals,” Kosky said, citing information from eclipse expert Dan McGlaun. McGlaun has attended several eclipses and had several speaking engagements in the area, including one at the Greater Franklin Chamber of Commerce in January where he recounted a 2009 eclipse he attended that was rained out.

“The day is going to be what the day is going to be. Even though it wasn’t the experience wanted, it was still an amazing experience,” McGlaun said during the January event. “It got dark and it got black. The eclipse happened and you couldn’t see.”

If the forecast shows a 100% chance of heavy rains, it would “certainly dissuade” a number of tourists from traveling to the county for the eclipse. It would also cause residents to “stand by” until they see how the weather is shaping up closer to the event, Kosky said.

“But if there is a good chance that the weather will be clear, I would expect an excellent turnout, both from locals and from visitors,” Kosky said. “So weather will definitely affect the numbers.”

Kosky and other officials are hoping for sunny skies on April 8, he said.