Weather Channel's solar eclipse plans: 'augmented' reality, cruise ship, airplane flight angles

This was posted Friday, August 4, 2017 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Weather Channel has had the day August 21 penciled in for months for special coverage of the first full solar eclipse in the lower 48 of the United States in the network's 35-year history.

The network will have 20 crews on the road, drones, "augmented" reality scientific explanation segments and coverage on both an airplane flight and a cruise ship.

Nora Zimmett, senior vice president for live programming, in an interview couldn't resist this promotion: "No one is going to able to - pardon the pun - eclipse our coverage!"

The heart of the live coverage will be from noon to 4 p.m. The network will be on an Alaskan Airlines flight to capture the eclipse on the West Coast early. (They are even holding a contest for two lucky winners at to take part in that flight.) Later, the network will work with the Royal Caribbean for a special Total Eclipse Cruise out at sea.

There will also be "augmented reality" segments which will show viewers how the eclipse happens from different angles and the science behind it from their Atlanta headquarters. That will be taped a week earlier.

In the line of the full solar eclipse, she notes the process takes about two hours although "totality" is only about two and a half minutes long. And though looking at the sun is typically a bad idea, during that brief time of "totality," it's okay to do so, Zimmett said.

Cities where the Weather Channel will have crews include Madras, Oreg., Jackson Hole, Wy., Carbondale, Ill., Clemson, S.C. and Nashville. They picked locations with the "least risk of cloud cover," Zimmett said. "Out west, you're more likely to get the full corona effect."

Below is the schedule for who will be hosting from each location. Overall, it will be an ensemble cast. "We want to make sure the eclipse is the star of the show," Zimmett said.

  • Stephanie Abrams in Madras, OR
  • Alex Wilson and Chris Bruin in Jackson Hole, WY
  • Jim Cantore and Reynolds Wolf at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL
  • Maria LaRosa at Clemson University in Clemson, SC
  • Jen Carfagno in Nashville, TN
  • Mike Seidel driving throughout the Southeast
  • Dave Malkoff from the Royal Caribbean Total Eclipse Cruise

There will be an after-party show from 4 to 8 p.m. EST featuring the best video and images from the event, including user-generated content.

"Here in Atlanta, we are going to get close to totality and our offices are providing viewing classes so people can peek outside," Zimmett said. "It won't get nearly as dark as places of totality but it's still thrilling. When we decided to go all in, every producer and meteorologist volunteered. They were very enthusiastic."

RELATED: Georgia-related solar events listed here

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.