Eclipse Begins: 9:04 a.m. on Aug. 21.
Eclipse Occurs: 10:15 to 10:25 a.m.
Total Darkness: 1 minute, 58 seconds.
Anticipated Community Impact Days on Hood River: Thursday, Aug. 17 to Tuesday, Aug. 22.
— From the Solar Eclipse Information Guide, Hood River County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services.
The coming solar eclipse and all its complications bring understandable invocations of the memory of Y2K, that uneventful “event” of Dec. 31, 1999-Jan. 1, 2000. Despite many dire predictions some 17 years back, computers and society in general did not fall to pieces with the tick of the clock.
• Find the sheriff’s guide at bit.ly/2weqlPh
• See the Hood River News’ Eclipse Guide, coming Aug. 16
Oregon and other states in the path of totality are not likely to slip into chaos in the (lack of) light of what will be a major celestial event. But traffic congestion, shortages, and inconveniences are likely to happen with the expected influx of travelers all across Oregon getting to and from the places where they hope to see the awesome event.
Minor inconveniences can trigger major problems, so it is advisable to prepare, even those of us living well outside the path of totality.
The sheriff’s guide states that ODOT estimates one million extra visitors to Oregon for the eclipse, a quarter of the state’s population, on top of the peak tourism season.
Expect significantly increased traffic on Interstate 84, and Oregon Highways 35 and 26 from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22.
(Hood River Interstate bridge travelers, take note: it might be a good idea to avoid the bridge, even though this part of Oregon is outside the path of totality. The eclipse is an invitation to rubberneck, and few events are more likely to encourage such behavior. Also, around 8 a.m., plenty of last-minute eclipse-watchers are likely to be heck-bent on getting to the path by 10. Plan to finish your commute well before 9 a.m.)
Watching the Eclipse?
The 2017 Solar Eclipse is a captivating event.
Though the path of totality crosses two hours’ drive from Hood River, the Aug. 21 eclipse is a major natural event that seems to affect all of Oregon, and Gorge residents are making plans to see it that mid-morning. Few natural events in memory have raised as much anticipation as these two minutes of celestial-caused darkness.
At Hood River News, we’d like to know what you did to observe the eclipse. Whether you’ll be in the path of totality, or near it, tell us about your eclipse-watching party.
Photos are also welcome — it could be the eclipse itself, or preparations, reactions, or any special circumstances.
Send your comments with a few details about what went into it and made it special — 100 words or fewer, please — with photo attachment, to hrnews@hoodrivern....
Send them in Aug. 21 and we’ll publish as early as our Aug. 23 edition, and post right away some on hoodrivernews.com.
And, whatever you do, please wear protective eye-wear.
According to the guide, “Surveys indicate the vast majority of travelers are coming from two to 12 hours away, meaning roads across the state will be impacted. If an emergency occurs, delays will get worse. Hood River County has worked with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Office of Emergency Management, ODOT, Oregon Health Authority and local public safety partners to develop contingency plans in case problems escalate. Statewide, we could completely tap our emergency resources.”
The sheriff’s online document is a thoughtful primer on what to expect and how to plan. Selected points to emphasize:
• Freeway and highway traffic will be especially heavy Sunday-Tuesday.
• If emergencies occur, traffic will worsen. “During the train derailment (June 3, 2016) we saw how freeway closures impacted traffic in town, too.”
• Plan important appointments outside eclipse impact days. Allow for extra time for travel.
• For road conditions call 511 or visit Tripcheck.com.
• Be prepared with fuel, food, water, bathroom breaks and supplies in case you’re stuck in traffic.
• Under Oregon’s “move over” law, drivers must move to the next lane if approaching an emergency vehicle from behind. If it is not safe, slow to 5 MPH below the speed limit.
• Expect longer lines for fuel, restaurants and stores. Supplies may be limited due to high demand and longer travel times for resupply. Stock up early.
• Fuel shortages may occur across the state, particularly near Interstate 84. Gas up all your vehicles by Thursday, Aug. 17.
• Cell service may be interrupted, affecting point of sale services reliant on wireless. Have a backup plan with neighbors and friends and family. Texting may be more reliable than calls.
• Consider carrying cash. Increased travelers may impact ATM and electronic money. Visit your bank before Aug. 17.
• Have extra food, water and medicine on hand for humans and pets. As the guide states, “The eclipse is a drill to check your business and family emergency kits and plans.”