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Central and northern Pennsylvanians react to a cloudy solar eclipse

A crowd of people sit on the grass in front of a lake to watch the solar eclipse.
Reese Wetzel
A crowd of people in Girard, Pa. sit on the grass in front of a lake to watch the solar eclipse. Girard is near Erie, where the clouds did part in time for the eclipse.

Even though many in Pennsylvania looked up to cloudy skies for Monday's solar eclipse, some did get brief glimpses of the cosmic event.

"Oh my God! Whoa!"

Those and other shouts of amazement can be heard in audio recorded by Sydney Wetzel, a senior at Penn State and a digital production intern with WPSU.

“I don’t know if you can hear that," Wetzel said, "but it reached totality! That is the COOLEST thing I have ever seen in the sky. It’s kind of ominous. Looks like there’s a star below it."

She traveled home to Girard in Erie County, where the eclipse reached totality.

“It was cloudy and we were worried that we weren’t going to see anything, but now the clouds cleared up just in time to see full totality," Wetzel said.

Others who traveled to see the total eclipse weren’t so lucky.

“Unfortunately, the near total cloud cover obscured the actual eclipse in western New York," said Jim Leous, from State College. He traveled to western New York to see the eclipse.

“It did get suddenly dark and remain so for approximately three minutes. During that time, the local peepers started to vocalize and two bats appeared in the sky, only to slink away when the light returned," Leous said.

Leous shared a video he took of the spring peepers calling, and disappointment from his wife, Gloria, about the clouds covering the eclipse.

”You can’t even see anything right now," she said.

Zoë McVerry, a 4-year-old from Lemont, wears special glasses to view the solar eclipse.
Emily Reddy
Zoë McVerry, a 4-year-old from Lemont, traveled with her parents to Lakewood, New York, to see the eclipse.

They weren’t the only ones unimpressed by the sight, or lack thereof.

“Mom, I wanna go home," said Zoë McVerry, a 4-year-old from Lemont.

“Zoë, it’s a total solar eclipse! Enjoy it. Experience it," said Emily Reddy, McVerry's mom and WPSU's news director.

The family traveled to Lakewood, New York to try to see the full eclipse. Reddy said her daughter was interested in the partial eclipse earlier when the sky was clearer, but she was getting tired from waiting and being in the car.

Reddy said clouds covered the eclipse during totality.

“I hoped we would get lucky, but this is sort of what the forecast said," Reddy said.

It was a cloudy sight in State College as well, where the moon covered 95% of the sun.

Thousands gathered in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park to watch the solar eclipse.
James Engel
Thousands gathered in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park on Monday for "SolarFest" to watch the eclipse.

“I’m really happy for people who did get to see it," said Kris Calfee, a Penn State graduate. Calfee went to SolarFest, a community viewing of the eclipse at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park.

“It’s super cloudy. Uh, it rained for a hot second, so, not ideal. But it’s kind of nice to see the hype and everyone kind of gasping when we do get that half-second view of the sun," Calfee said.

The crowd cheered when they got those glimpses.

There won’t be another solar eclipse in the United States for 20 years, and that one will only cross three states: Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.