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Those magic minutes during April 8’s solar eclipse brought me to tears

As a TV reporter and meteorologist, I experienced some pretty incredible things in my career.

I’ve watched a tornado signature form on the radar and then minutes later, video of it actually happening from on the ground nearby. I walked on a hot summer day along a beach searching for part of a shipwreck that washed ashore and after the longest mile of my life, it appeared suddenly with just a few more steps away. The first rocket launch I covered at Cape Canaveral was emotional as I watched the explosion miles away and then a silver glimmer take off into the sky, only to moments later hear the powerful roar of a successful liftoff.

But the 2024 total solar eclipse in Dallas left me in awe and with unforgettable emotions like I’ve never seen or felt before.

Related: Annular solar eclipse 2024 — Everything you need to know about the next solar eclipse

My hometown of Parma just south of Cleveland, Ohio, was in the path of totality and I originally planned to hang out at my Mom’s house for this celestial event. But on January 10, I got a text message asking if I would be interested in serving as emcee for a solar eclipse viewing event hosted by NOAA, NASA, and the National Science Foundation at the historic Fair Park Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, TX.

As someone extremely passionate about both space and STEM and also who had worked hard her entire career to get such an incredible opportunity like this, I thanked God that it was happening and gladly accepted such an important role. In the months to come, the excitement continued to grow about both this event as well as the eclipse and I stayed as connected as I could learning as much as possible about what to expect and how the country was reacting to it. I wrote more than half a dozen stories on different topics from early weather prospects along the path of totality to local events being planned and even got a whole different perspective on how different cultures like the Navajo Nation viewed eclipses. But one question at the end remained in my head — how was I going to personally experience this rare event?

As I got settled into Dallas two days before the main attraction, in addition to attending media events and doing a run-through with the speakers and performers for the show, I kept going back in my mind to what being part of witnessing a total solar eclipse would mean to me. Sure, I was professionally going to be accomplishing so much as the master of ceremonies for an event put on by some of the top organizations in the space and STEM world, but personally, during those “magic minutes” as I called them, how would that go? I had my protective eyewear, as the fashionista I am, the outfit picked out for the day, and the morning of I found someone to snap a photo of me during totality so I had it for my own history book.

Meredith Garofalo saw the eclipse from the historic Fair Park Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, TX. (Image credit: Meredith Garofalo)

But I kept thinking about what I heard from others I talked to about actually experiencing totality and how aspiring and extraordinary it was, unlike anything else they’ve seen before — I’ve covered a LOT of things in my career, would this really be that remarkable?

That morning there was continued nervousness that it would be too cloudy to see anything echoed by so many at the event and around Dallas. As a meteorologist, I studied the forecast and surrounding weather observations but one thing stuck out to me — there was a pretty big confidence of severe storms later in the day. From both experience forecasting and knowledge, I knew that to get the atmosphere prime for the development of strong storms, you needed clearing and ample amounts of sunshine in the afternoon to get things juicy and ripe to set the stage for this to happen. Therefore, based on that, I found confidence that the morning clouds would burn off and we would have a good window of sunshine and some clearing that would give us the viewing conditions we needed.

In addition to that confidence, I found time to pray and ask for God’s assistance to make it the perfect day with just enough clearing for perfection. Both my prayers were answered AND my forecast was verified as the countdown to totality reached the final hour mark with a happy mix of sun AND clouds, with breaks getting longer and longer as I watched through my glasses the progression of Pac-Man eating the sun.

The event went well — thankfully I was distracted during what seemed to be the longest morning keeping the crowd lively and excited and the speakers on track so everything flowed along perfectly. And then, the final countdown to the nearly four minutes of magic with the moon completely blocking the sun.

I don’t think I’ve checked my phone as often as I did the last 30 minutes leading up to totality and when we got down to five minutes out, it was interesting watching daylight slowly fade away. My heart started to pound as I got excited as the crowd began to get louder as minutes away ticked to seconds and then, at 1:40 PM CT, the cheers erupted and I realized it was time to take the glasses off and be part of the total solar eclipse.

The reporter in me screamed to record a video to document the experience and I’m glad I did to hold onto that moment forever. I was filled with such a rush of thrill, overtaken by emotions of awe and amazement, yes it was everything and more I hoped to feel at that time! I took photos and a fellow member of the broadcast community took photos of me and I of here just in the moment. I can tell you she did an excellent job with this photo because I think this captures it all — tears of joy and a soul filled with an overwhelming rush of respect for the power of what was happening. But like everyone else says, the camera does not do justice to what you saw with your own eyes!

Meredith Garofalo captured this image of the diamond ring effect during the April 8 total solar eclipse.  (Image credit: Meredith Garofalo)

For the final 1-2 minutes I just stayed in the moment, feeling the emotions and watching the grand finale, as the diamond ring appeared. And as quickly as it began, it was over. Sitting here, recollecting what happened in Dallas, I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of something that was indeed powerful. It was a different type of awe than anything I had experienced before, but like they say all good things must come to an end, and that’s when they become special memories to last a lifetime.

Would I do it again? Perhaps if I can get to Spain in 2026 otherwise I am just so appreciative it’s become a part of my story and I can share it with you just as I did with so many other people in amazement that special day in Dallas on April 8, 2024.

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