Aug 21st Solar Eclipse: World’s Biggest Traffic Jam?

Aug 21st Solar Eclipse: World’s Biggest Traffic Jam?

Santosh Varughese Jun, 01 2017

The solar eclipse that is occurring on August 21, 2017,  is going to be a sight to behold and it has already enthralled a huge number of astronomers, eclipse chasers, and average Americans. 

Many are choosing the day to host private events and parties on the pathways or nearby and almost all campgrounds are already seeing heightened activity regarding pre-booking and prepping. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and every town in the path of totality is already experiencing a jump in pre-reservations.

Millions of websites have come up within the last six months, dedicated to everything from detailed explanations to interactive maps for the great American solar eclipse.  The solar eclipse is happening on August 21st, 2017, and it will be drawing millions of people from all over the world as they watch and experience the path of totality. It is the first total eclipse of this century that will cross the continent of North America from the west coast to the east with a 70-mile long journey and it will be providing ample scope for millions to view this celestial wonder.  

It is the first total eclipse of this century that will cross the continent of North America from the west coast to the east with a 70-mile long journey and it will be providing ample scope for millions to view this celestial wonder.  

Why the rush?

The last event of this amplitude happened about 99 years ago in 1918. Since then, the United States has been waiting for a total solar eclipse of this magnitude. The last total eclipse that occurred for viewing from American soil was on February 1979, and it was only visible from the five northwestern states of the country. This time, it will cut through the US from Oregon to South Carolina. The path will travel through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. Over 500 million people will be able to see the solar eclipse in totality or in partial form. It also includes about 35 million inhabitants of Canada.

This time, it will cut through the US from Oregon to South Carolina. The path will travel through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina. Over 500 million people will be able to see the solar eclipse in totality or in partial form. It also includes about 35 million inhabitants of Canada.

Eager parents and schools are booking most of the camping grounds in Oregon and other states for viewing the event. Since it will either be in the morning or late afternoon, the time is perfect for school field trips as well. The path of totality runs through cities and towns, and also includes some of the busiest crossways on any typical day. 

Millions traveling at the last minute –

It seems like quite a long path, and that is entirely accurate. However, the experts are requesting you not to get too overjoyed in assuming that the viewing will be incredibly easy for all in the path. First of all, most of the path falls on desolate land. Secondly, there might be cloud interference that will prevent you from getting a clear view of the total eclipse. Thirdly, cities like Dallas, Detroit, Orlando, Atlanta and Salt Lake City are about maximum 8 hours drive from the path. Therefore, there will be millions of last-moment enthusiasts, who will be traveling to see the eclipse as a spur of the moment decision. 

High traffic alert –

In such a scenario, The ATSSA is expecting a Category 5 traffic near the centerline. To understand better what a Category 5 crowd event is, just imagine a Woodstock-like event outside your window! Since there is no way to predict exactly what will happen on the day of the eclipse, we would suggest you make preparations early. The heavy traffic may even cause some logistical problems in traffic control since the flow will be heavily biased. Emergency vehicles will also have a tough time navigating through the traffic and with that in mind, authorities have already announced high alerts in certain cities of the Northern USA. 

The heavy traffic may even cause some logistical problems in traffic control since the flow will be heavily biased. Emergency vehicles will also have a tough time navigating through the traffic and with that in mind, authorities have already announced high alerts in certain cities of the Northern USA. 

Repeat of the Baja eclipse –

This condition could be a repeat of the 1991 eclipse in Baja California. During this total eclipse, the Mexican authorities were forced to turn millions of Americans away from the border as they were traveling to the desert to see the eclipse at the last moment. It not only included the college-going demographics, but the crowd also incorporated some of the eminent chasers. Now try to imagine a similar situation on the American interstate without any border control to mitigate the situation.

If this sort of traffic extravaganza happens, you will find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere, far away from the center of all activities. You may have to wait for hours before the traffic clears.  The worst part of this situation would be getting stuck near the vicinity of the total eclipse without actually being able to see it.

Plan ahead to save time –

If you want to catch the event live, there is still time. You need not be the last few millions hitting the motor roads at the last hour. Plan early with the help of https://www.solar-eclipse-august-21-2017.com/. Book an inn or a homestay or if you are planning a camping trip, contact the campgrounds now.  The eclipse will be during the morning on the west coast, and during the afternoon on the east coast, so you can plan on arriving the night before, camp out and get an early bird ticket to the best viewpoints.

NASA has an interactive map that will tell you where to go and how to reach each location on time for the best views. While you are making plans, let us take a couple of seconds to remind you of the very high priority in taking your protective eyewear. Anticipate that it is very likely that local stores along the path of totality will run out of the required solar glasses on or before the day of the event.

Do not make DIY glasses with used x-ray films or non-silver black and white films. They do nothing to stop the harmful radiation from the sun. You can use a Number 14 Welder's Glass as protective eyewear. These are quite pocket-friendly, and you can order on off any online store right now.

How to engage your kids?

While waiting for the solar eclipse, you can keep your kids busy by encouraging them to make DIY projectors to view the eclipse. All your need is two pieces of cardboard. Make a small opening in one to let the light in and place it in the probable direction of the sun. Use the other, white cardboard as a screen. Place it about half a meter away from the "lens." It is an entirely safe way for kids to view the eclipse.

Direct light from the sun can cause permanent damage to their eyes. So either make sure they wear protective eyewear immediately before and after totality or help them watch the eclipse using the kid-friendly projection system.

Resources & More Information

For answers to 76 Frequently Asked Questions on this Solar Eclipse, Click HERE for FAQ

For Google Map of the PATH of TOTALITY across the USA, Click HERE for Solar Eclipse MAP

For State by State Information on this Solar Eclipse, Click HERE for INFO

For T-shirts, mugs, pillows, tote bags to celebrate, to commemorate, Click HERE for GEAR

Join the discussion

Dr Kate Russo
10.06 08:12

If you want to know WHY so many people go out of their way to travel into the path of totality, consider reading this book— Being in the Shadow: Stories of the First-Time Total Eclipse Experience. This event really is very special, and you should try to get into the path of totality if you can.

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