On the afternoon of 21 August 2017, a partial solar eclipse occurred over the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia, USA. High-resolution meteorological observations were made on the floor of a small valley to investigate the effect of eclipse-induced cooling on thermally-driven winds. Measurements taken both at the surface and in the lower atmosphere indicate cooling throughout much of the atmospheric boundary layer. Multiple surface weather stations observed wind rotations that occurred both during and after the eclipse, as wind direction shifted from upvalley to downvalley and back to upvalley. The direction of these rotations (clockwise vs. counterclockwise) varied between stations and was strongly influenced by the proximity of the stations to topographic features in the valley. Doppler lidar observations over the valley floor show a 300 m thick layer of downvalley winds that formed below a deeper layer of upvalley winds. Changes in boundary layer winds and structure during the solar eclipse are similar to changes during the morning and evening transitions. However, the subtle differences in the direction of wind rotations between diurnal- and eclipse-transition periods provided important new insights into the interaction between slope- and valley flows, incoming solar radiation, and topographic features.
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