Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, marks the first time those in the contiguous U.S. will be able to view a total solar eclipse in 38 years. The line of “totality,” which is where the moon completely blocks the sun from view, crosses just North of the metro.
But, if you think it would be a simple jaunt to the Northland to view the eclipse in totality, you may want to think again.
In a press release by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “approximately 200 million people (a little less than 2⁄3 the nation’s population) live within a day’s drive of the path of this total eclipse.”
“We understand the excitement around the solar eclipse, and we encourage Kansans and our travelers to enjoy this rare opportunity. We do, however, want you to remain safe as you take the opportunity to witness this occurrence,” said Lt. Adam Winters, Kansas Highway Patrol public information officer.
Hotels along the line of totality have been sold out for years. Civic centers, bars and restaurants are scheduling “watch parties.” And schools and day care centers are planning for a number of absences as parents remove their children from school to view the event together.
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) plans to put out message boards and halt construction projects to help alleviate highway bottlenecks. However, the only way the day will proceed smoothly is if drivers plan for delays and are patient with their fellow motorists.
Please follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Transportation for safe travel during the eclipse:
- Don’t stop along the interstate or park on the shoulder during the event.
- Exit the highway to safe location to view and/or photograph the eclipse.
- Don’t take photographs while driving!
- Don’t look at the eclipse unless you have special opaque eclipse safety glasses.
- Don’t try to wear the opaque eclipse glasses while operating a vehicle.
- Turn your headlights on — do not rely on your automatic headlights when the eclipse blocks out the sun.
- Watch out for pedestrians along smaller roads. People may be randomly parking and walking alongside the roadside in the hours around the eclipse to get the best view.
- Prepare for extra congestion especially on the interstates in the path on the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.
- Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can.
To learn more about the 2017 eclipse, please visit the NASA website.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself and stay safe.