Thursday, August 17, 2017

Last minute Eclipse Tips

By Barbara LaBoe

Sunday morning update:
Safety First
So, you’ve packed your vehicle and made a plan to view Monday’s eclipse. Before you leave, check out these safety tips to help ensure a smooth trip.
  • Keep your gas tank full – fill up regularly along a long trip to guard against long lines or some stations in Oregon running low on gas.
  • Bring extra food and water as well as a first aid kit and any mediations you may need.
  • Bring or print out a paper map of where you’re headed. Cell systems may be overloaded, which could knock out GPS directions.
  • Protect your eyes. You can’t look at a partial or transitioning eclipse without special safety glasses – regular sunglasses aren’t enough. (However do not drive with the glasses on – you only need them when looking directly at the sun).
  • Be fire wise. Don’t pull your vehicle on brush or grass – the heat can ignite a wildfire – and never throw cigarettes or other lit material from vehicles. Always obey closure signs during evacuations.
  • Planning a long trip? Here’s a list of our state’s rest areas in case you need a bathroom break or to stretch your legs

Original post:
With just a few days until the Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, are you ready?

Whether you're traveling to Oregon to see the total solar eclipse, checking out the partial eclipse here in Washington or just going about your normal errands you'll likely notice different traffic patterns this weekend and on Monday. Central Oregon was already seeing traffic backups and fuel shortages Wednesday evening at the start of an eclipse festival. With up to 1 million people expected to travel to Oregon, we expect increased traffic throughout our state as people make their way there and back.

If any significant congestion or closures happen, we'll post details here.
This NASA map shows the Path of Totality through Oregon during Monday's eclipse. Expect heavy traffic this
weekend through Tuesday as people in Washington make their way to and from the viewing sites.

So, how bad will traffic be? What's the best route? And when is the best time to leave? Unfortunately, we don't have a crystal ball. This isn't an event where people buy tickets or register travel plans. Based on hotel and campground registrations and anecdotal information about people's plans, though, we do expect traffic to be heavier than normal throughout the weekend as well as Monday and Tuesday as people return.
Follow these tips from our friends at the Illinois Department of Transportation
to help stay safe during Monday's solar eclipse.

Whether you're traveling to the eclipse or just through your hometown, please remember:
  • Do not stop in roadways or on the shoulder to view the eclipse. This is illegal and unsafe and could delay emergency vehicles from doing their job.
  • Give yourself extra travel time or alter travel times if possible.
  • If traveling to the eclipse, bring extra water, food and other necessary supplies. You may be in your vehicle longer than normal and you need to be prepared.
  • Do not operate a vehicle while wearing your eclipse glasses. That's not what they were designed for.
  • Have a plan. Trying to attend the eclipse last minute is not a good idea and likely will be unsuccessful given expected heavy traffic.
  • Stay informed. Use our tools such as the WSDOT app, travel alerts page, Twitter accounts, traffic cameras and this blog to stay in the know.
There's certainly a lot of excitement about the eclipse, but please prepare and stay safe so that everyone can enjoy the experience.

2 comments:

Jeff Gray said...

Has W$DOT figured out a way to toll people for viewing the eclipse yet?

MWR said...

The only thing not uncertain about eclipse-related traffic was that volumes in the I-5 corridor would be extraordinarily high afterward. This is why, at 1 a.m. this morning, 10 hours into our drive from Salem to the Seattle area, I really assumed there must be some mistake in Tacoma when signs started announcing that the two left lanes would be closing. Had someone forgotten to take the signs down?

I still can't really believe that the agency responsible for this blog post, various press statements and all the heavy-traffic warnings we saw heading south on Friday is also the one responsible for:

"Northbound I-5 from Portland Avenue to East Bay Street will have the two left lanes closed Monday through Friday. Lane closures begin at 8 p.m. with all lanes open by 5 a.m. Thursday and Friday, and by 7 a.m. Saturday."

That was a truly bewildering lane closure decision by WSDOT--really a Challenger-launch-decision process failure in my opinion.

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