Crowds gather across North Carolina to watch solar eclipse

NORTH CAROLINA — It’s eclipse day across North America.

In North Carolina, crowds already started forming Monday morning to view the celestial event.


Because of the weather Monday in the mountains, it was a real toss up if people would need rain coats or solar glasses. Fortunately, for a good part of the eclipse, Mother Nature did come through at times at 5,000 feet.

Lines had already formed when people showed up in the morning. The first 100 people at the main gate got a free pair of solar eclipse glasses.

By lunchtime, the parking lot at the top of the mountain didn’t have an empty spot as people like Ginny Prystawfki gathered to watch the solar eclipse.

“I think it’s a great way to spend the afternoon with some friends,” she said. “Having lunch and watching this historic event.”

>> We want to see how you experienced the solar eclipse! Share your pictures for a chance to see them on Channel 9.

People at Grandfather Mountain were able to see 87% coverage during the eclipse, with the peak falling around 3 p.m. It was enough for one North Carolina State University mom to stay put in Avery County on Monday.

“My daughter has a big event at N.C. State today and I’m missing it to be here,” she told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty.

“It’s that important,” she added

It rained before lunchtime, but that didn’t stop Clarence and Janis Kenyon, who’ve been married for more than 58 years, from going to the top of the mountain.

“Won’t swear to it, but the good Lord is looking out for us and we’ll see it,” Clarence said.

The couple’s prayers were answered for the first part of the eclipse and around its peak. For some, the weather didn’t matter.

“The cloud cover is OK,” Theresa Sims said. “We won’t get to see it as clearly, but we’ll still enjoy out family time.”

Grandfather Mountain does have bears and other animals. Park officials told Faherty they’re watching to see how those animals reacted at the peak of the eclipse when it got darker.

Eclipsing the eclipse

A whopping 99% of the United States saw at least a partial solar eclipse on Monday.

It was a packed house up on the green roof of the Schiele Museum in Gastonia. Many of the kids got to see their first solar eclipse.

It was a particularly special event for one family,

“I survived a stroke actually in 2017 when Rhiannon was born and it was a week before the 2017 eclipse,” Mary O’Shea said.

“When I actually got to hold her was the day of the eclipse, so that week later that we were separated, I held her and she was right here on my chest. And everybody at the hospital was all outside and we were inside by ourselves and it was perfect and beautiful. She eclipsed the eclipse.”

O’Shea’s family was happy to share Monday’s eclipse together while making new memories.

(Channel 9 Video Vault: May 30, 1984 annular solar eclipse)

Joe Puma

Joe Puma, wsoctv.com

Joe is a meteorologist with Severe Weather Center 9