Monday’s solar eclipse blocked out all but a sliver of sun in Garfield County, making for a celestial rarity worth witnessing.
Colorado’s Western Slope got roughly a 90 percent eclipse, causing a significant temperature drop as the path of totality crossed the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The last total solar eclipse in the contiguous U.S. was in 1979.
Chris Cuoco, senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, reported the temperature at his office dropped about 4 degrees.
But readings from Storm King Mountain, just west of Glenwood, showed a drop of at least 9 degrees. Those readings come in only every hour, but at about 11 a.m. the temperature was at 70 degrees, and the next reading at about noon was 61 degrees.
The maximum sun coverage in Glenwood came at 11:42 a.m., and while the midday light was odd, it wasn’t exactly twilight-like.
Cuoco said his research indicated that it takes 95 percent solar occlusion or more to see that dramatic darkening. “That shows you just how darn bright the sun is,” he said.
Still, the darkening in Grand Junction was enough to set off the National Weather Service’s solar lighting in the parking lot.
Several locations in Glenwood, including Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and the Glenwood Springs Branch Library, served as gather points for eclipse watchers, offering either eclipse glasses or instruction in building viewing devices.
Lots of visitors to Glenwood found a relaxing spot at Iron Mountain Hot Springs to watch the rare celestial event.
Kathy Stahlman, owner of Glenwood’s Injury Release and Wellness, was one of the few locals at the hot springs. It gave her the chance to relive a fond childhood memory. In 1958, when she was 5 years old, Stahlman saw a partial solar eclipse on Long Island, New York.
She had a friend whose father was a nuclear energy scientist at the famed Brookhaven National Laboratory, and he helped her and her friends construct a cardboard pinhole viewing device to watch the solar eclipse.
Margie and Ron Hever from Centennial had planned their trip to Glenwood Springs, but said it was only a happy coincidence that they were in town for the eclipse.
The couple had hunted for a pair of eclipse glasses in Boulder, but after waiting more than an hour, the shop they were at sold out. Luckily, a man they met in line had worked for NASA, and he instructed them how to build their own eclipse filter with a welding shield and cardboard. “This is definitely a historical event,” Ron Hever said.
Brian Glaser and Jennifer Losty from Broomfield were also at Iron Mountain celebrating Losty’s birthday. “We definitely wanted to be at the hot springs because it’s so relaxing, and the experience was beautiful,” said Glaser.
Sarah and Dylan Linenberger, from Dighton, Kansas, were in Glenwood for their honeymoon. “It was just perfect timing,” said Dylan. They have seen some lunar eclipses “but never anything this big of a deal.” Watching from the hot springs, the event was also the newlyweds’ first visit to western Colorado.