On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will track across the United States from Oregon through a dozen states to South Carolina. Millions of people are well situated to see this impressive astronomical event. While people in cities like Nashville, TN and Charleston, SC can see it from their homes, many others will need to travel. Some will travel if an eclipse viewing location is relatively nearby. Others will travel hundreds, or thousands, of miles to see the event. An increase in traffic will result.
Significant Traffic Jam Conditions on August 21, 2017
Many US communities are likely to experience high levels of traffic on Eclipse Day. These are located within the narrow band of the moon's shadow, various distances from large cities outside the band. These include the following towns and cities:
Idaho Falls, ID
Grand Island, NE
St. Joseph, MO
Salem, OR, USA
Traffic for Salem, Oregon
Salem is the state capital of Oregon. On the morning of August 21, 2017, local residents will see the moon pass in front of the sun. Residents of Portland, barely an hour to the north, will miss the show, if they stay home. For them, the morning will dim, but it will still be daylight. The extremely impressive sights will not be seen. As a result, it is extremely likely that many thousands will travel on Interstate-5 to the Salem area. These people will be joined by many from more distant cities such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver, BC.
The exact number of people wishing to travel to Salem, Oregon cannot be determined, but estimates can be made. Over 2.5 million people live within a one hour drive along Interstate-5. One could imagine that 5 to 15 percent of these people might make the trip. Accordingly, between 100,000 and 375,000 could arrive in Salem. These would, of course, add to the city's population of 400,000. Given that the majority of visitors will travel by car, each needing to park, between 170 and 650 miles of parking spaces will be required.
Since Portland lies to the north, most of those travelling to Salem will proceed south on Interstate-5. They may feel that a short drive would move them from a partial eclipse area to a prime viewing zone. Given that the event is at around 10:15AM, Portland people may decide to leave at around 9AM. This could be a big mistake, leaving this late. If a significant number travel at the same time, they are likely to totally jam up the Interstate in the Salem area right at the time of totality.
Portland travelers should be prepared, and they should begin to move early. While they only need to go about 50 miles, they may find that the entire route is jammed with those who learn about the event at the last moment. No, anyone traveling south to a viewing site should be well on the road early. Plan to arrive well in advance of the 10:17AM start time. In fact, arriving at a good spot by 8AM would be prudent.
Those interested in the eclipse at the Oregon state capital could make plans to be a specific venue early. The Oregon State Fair grounds would be a reasonable destination choice. Alternatively, one could go to an area park, school or similar location. The sun will be fairly low in the western sky as it is blocked by the moon. There are other parks located near the city which would offer great viewing opportunities.
Recommended Eclipse Viewing Destination
Silverton, OR is a great choice!
Silverton, OR 97381, USA
Eyesight Protection - An Important Consideration
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Improving Your Viewing Experience
Travelers to an eclipse viewing location should plan in advance to improve their enjoyment of the event. Remember that many people will travel at the last moment. Many of them, thousands perhaps, will cause large traffic jams near prime spots. There is simply no way for existing road infrastructure to handle the sudden influx of tens of thousands of cars. Backups will begin many miles away from premiere destinations. People, realizing that the moment of totality is quickly approaching, will park their cars where they are and step out to watch the sun.
After the eclipse, people will want to return to their homes. Traffic jams will persist for hours. As a prepared viewer, you can take steps to avoid many of the problems others will encounter.
First, arrive at a viewing location early. If your site is very far from home, you should arrive on August 20, or before. You must be in place well in advance of totality. Those who leave late will be at risk of being blocked from the prime sites.
Second, try to park your car positioned in the direction you wish to go after the eclipse is over. If you need to execute a U-Turn, you will need much more time before you can go. Similarly, you should be positioned near the edge of major cities, rather than deep in the downtown core.
Next, try to delay your departure time. After the event, there will be a festival-like atmosphere. You can enjoy the moments rather than joining the rush of traffic. It is very likely that no one will be moving very fast so you might as well wait in comfort.
You should ensure that your vehicle has a full fuel tank prior to eclipse day. This will allow you to bypass filling stations. Increased traffic levels will cause many to run low on fuel. They could overwhelm local fuel resources. You should avoid being stuck in filling lines.
Get Ready to Take Great Eclipse Photos
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Warning: Protect Eyesight
Everyone who intends to view a total solar eclipse must protect their eyesight, and family members' too. There is a very real danger. Because the sun is so greatly dimmed during the partial eclipse phases, it seems easy to look at. Indeed, you would not feel a need to look away as you can easily tolerate the low level of light. The unblocked portion of the sun, however small, is of full strength. Even a slim sliver of the sun, blasting full force, is able to damage sensitive optic nerves. The victim won't even feel as they are partially blinded.
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Enjoy the Eclipse - August 21, 2017r
A total solar eclipse is an amazing event that has amazed people for thousands of years. The normally strong sun is blotted from the sky. Day turns to night. Stars come out in the daytime. Animals and birds return to the nighttime activities. The sun appears as a black hole in the sky, surrounded by the dazzling solar corona.
The effects are very short, barely 2 minutes for most viewers in 2017. It's also rare. There hasn't been one in the USA since 1991 at Hawaii. The Lower 48 hasn't had the experience since 1979. Millions of people will be able to see the 2017 eclipse. Be prepared.