Now that you’ve got your eclipse-viewing gear ready, you’ve picked a perfect location, and you’re prepared to get awesome photos of the April 8 eclipse, you might think the only thing that can ruin your plans are clouds. But it’s not so—even under heavy cloud cover, a solar eclipse can still be an incredible experience.

As of the morning of April 5, forecasters at the National Weather Service say the places most likely to have clear skies during the April 8, 2024 eclipse are northern New England and from southern Missouri to central Indiana; predictions get cloudier the further south and west you go. Texas and Arkansas are likely to see serious cloud cover, maybe even thunderstorms, and clouds are possible or likely in Ohio and parts of PA and NY too.

No matter where you are, or how much coverage you’re dealing with, here’s how to make the best of a cloudy eclipse.

Even if clouds are predicted, bring eye protection

While the sun doesn’t get any brighter during an eclipse and clouds may block out much of its light, you should still have eye protection ready to go. You never know when there will be a break in the clouds, and you don’t want to risk not being able to look at the eclipse because you left your solar glasses at home (because you definitely shouldn’t look at the eclipse without them). Check out our guide to making sure your eclipse-viewing glasses will actually block the sun.

What to expect if it’s very cloudy during the eclipse

If your eclipse-viewing spot is covered over with heavy, low, “looks like rain” style clouds, you may still be able to see the sun, kind of. “It’ll still be an eclipse,” Bill Nye told the Austin-American Statesman.“It’s still spectacular. In general, even when it’s cloudy, when you look straight in the sun’s direction, you will still see the sun.”

Even if you can’t see the sun at all, the secondary effects of the eclipse will be apparent, and it can still be an awe-inspiring, if more subtle, experience. Daytime will seem to change to nighttime, and the world will seem to darken, as if the universe just lowered a dimmer switch. In total cloud cover, the darkness will seem to come on faster than it would on a clear sky. You might not notice any change in light level in the run-up to the totality, until the light drops faster than you’ve ever seen it drop and it’s suddenly dramatically, dark.

You can think of the cloud cover as giving you a chance to experience the eclipse with senses other than sight. You’ll feel the temperature drop rapidly. You might feel the wind change directions or die down. You might notice birds stop singing, and other animals may grow quiet. It’s not the sun disappearing before your eyes, but it’s still a rare and magical experience.

What to expect when there are mid-level, broken clouds during the eclipse

If it’s one of those days when it’s mostly cloudy, with occasional glimpses of the blue sky, you should be able to see a sun-behind-the-clouds view, and you might get lucky and catch the eclipse in a patch of clear sky. It’s a crapshoot, but even if you don’t get to see the event itself, the right kind of cloud cover during an eclipse can result in dramatic, sunset-like colors in the sky immediately before and after totality. Even if the eclipse is covered by an errant cloud, when it gets dark, look to clear areas in the sky to see stars and planets that have suddenly become visible. 

What to expect when there’s a thin, high layer of clouds during the eclipse

If high, thin cirrus clouds are covering the sky at your eclipse-viewing location, you could be in for a dramatic experience. Lighter clouds tend to thin out as the totality nears due to the way the sunlight is scattered; they may seem to become transparent, giving you a clearer view of the big moment. It won’t be quite as dramatic as if the sky was perfectly clear, but you can’t have everything. 

When you should cancel your eclipse viewing plans

There are places along the path of totality where thunderstorms are predicted, and you should not stand outside in a thunderstorm, even during an eclipse. In some places, thunderstorms are predicted for after the time of the eclipse, so use caution, lest you end up trapped in a post-totality traffic jam as a violent storm rages. Keep up to date with your the local weather forecasts as the time approaches so you can make an informed decision. Stay safe out there, sun worshippers!