On August 21st, 2017, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the continental United States from Oregon to South Carolina. A total solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun in the sky. Of course, this is only an optical illusion as the sun is actually about 400 times wider than the moon. Coincidentally, the moon happens to be about 400 times closer to the earth than the sun.
During the total solar eclipse, the path of “totality” will be approximately 70 miles wide and will stretch from Oregon to South Carolina. It will pass through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Those who are in the path of this cosmic event are extremely fortunate as the sun and the moon only line up for a total eclipse about once every 18 months on average. Even more rare would be to see a total eclipse from the same spot since a specific spot on the earth’s surface will only experience a total eclipse approximately every 375 years. So, if you find yourself in the path of totality for this eclipse, take the time to acknowledge it, because you may not be able to see it from that spot again for nearly four centuries.
You can use this interactive map from NASA to zoom in on the path and find out the exact locations and times which it will be visible.
Blackout zones for cellular phones, ambulances stuck in gridlock. There are many things that emergency managers around the country expect to see during the week of August 21.
This solar eclipse—the first in 99 years has so much interest from fans that disaster-level preparations are being set in motion because so many people are trying to jockey for viewing space in prime locations. With an estimated 7.4 million gawkers trying to fill a 70-mile-wide section of land across the U.S. for a two-minute window to watch as the sun is blotted from the sky.
What is the worry? In many of these areas millions of people are expected to clog roadways, for several days before and after the eclipse.
In my hometown of Kansas City, one of the large metro areas in the path is preparing for traffic similar to a World Series celebration, luckily we have had practice for that recently.
While there are many things to consider for your own safety many of the agencies that are the most helpful during times of emergency are already starting to stock up on extra water, emergency shelters and even extra portable toilets.
Hotels along the path of the eclipse have been sold out for several months which may cause a problem for groups like the Red Cross that helps out fire victims with hotel vouchers. They are getting emergency shelters in the 12 states ready for increased traffic.
Many experts are telling travelers to pack extra food and water in your car in case you get stuck traffic. Make sure you know where you are staying and keep printed directions on hand because cellular services may be jammed in some areas. Do not try and just wing it or you may end up in an emergency shelter or sleeping in your car.