Across the country, people are counting down the days until Aug. 21. Millions are planning trips, camp sites are at capacity, and emergency plans are prepared. A solar eclipse will cross the United States for the first time since February 1979. In fact, it will be the first to cross coast-to-coast since 1918. This natural sensation has come to be known as “The Great American Eclipse.”
Oregon will be among the first states in the direct path of the eclipse, or the “path of totality,” where the moon will completely block the sun for a little over two minutes. It will impact cities such as Madras, Ore. To prepare, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management created a 23-page document outlining plans for before and after the phenomenon. The plan includes a 24-hour hotline for notifications of all incidents whether natural, technological or human-caused.
U.S. Cellular and AT&T are both preparing for the thousands of additional people that will flock to the area. U.S. Cellular’s director of Network Operations, Tim Brown, issued a statement noting “our team is already reviewing our network to ensure we have adequate capacity to handle additional traffic in the area around the time of the eclipse.” Brown said the plan is to “implement upgrades as needed to help ensure an excellent customer experience in the Madras area. At large events such as this, we usually see a spike in text and data usage more than voice, so we are also looking at how we can prioritize services that are most important to our customers.”
While TV service shouldn’t be affected by the eclipse, the massive influx of people may cause lots of internet traffic. This isn’t a direct effect of the eclipse, but rather consequences of the number of internet users in the area. Local emergency managers say because of the potential for cell networks to overload, home phones are still the most reliable in an emergency.
If you plan to view The Great American Eclipse, here are a few safety tips:
- Never look directly at the sun, even during an eclipse. Various websites are selling eclipse-certified glasses, and vendors will be selling them on-site at some of the most popular viewing venues.
- Camera experts warn that taking a photo of the eclipse with your phone could burn out and damage your phone.
- Have snacks, water and first-aid supplies on hand in case crowds/lines/traffic become paramount.
- Be aware of the splendor and hazards that are part of Oregon. Know what to do and where to go in the event of severe heat, wildfires, earthquakes, or other natural disasters.
- Have an emergency kit and an emergency plan. Make sure family members or friends, who are not traveling with you know your schedule and when you plan to return.
A few planned activities surrounding eclipse:
- Madras is almost directly on the path of totality, which makes it an ideal location for seeing the once-in-a-lifetime event, and many are taking note. Sunset Solar Campground recently opened 3,000 additional RV and camping spots to the public to accommodate the expected visitors. Science Channel will also feature Madras in its upcoming special, The Great American Eclipse.
- Oregon Solarfest is Aug. 17-22 at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Solarfest includes three days of music, entertainment and science, working in partnership with NASA.
- Mt. Bachelor will offer scenic chairlift rides and RV parking during the eclipse. This opens up new opportunities to view the eclipse away from the expected congested Highway 97 corridor. Plans are to open the Pine Marten chairlift for rides to the 7,800 foot elevation starting at 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21. Click for details about purchasing tickets and souvenirs.
- Mountain High Coins in Bend, Ore. is selling two commemorative coins for the eclipse. Both show the path of totality on one side. On the other side, one shows an image of the eclipse, while the other is a glow-in-the-dark coin.
- Zolo Media of Bend, Ore. partnered with Oregon Solarfest to promote and televise the coming eclipse on local channels.
- Orange & Black Eclipse Festival at Culver High School, Aug. 20-21, Culver, Ore. Festival activities include overnight camping, science presentations, entertainment and children’s activities. Meet guest speaker James Wetherbee, former NASA astronaut.
The eclipse will happen on Monday, Aug. 21. It will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. (Pacific Time). The path of totality will cross 338 miles of Oregon and then proceed to Idaho and 10 more states. Being as close to the center of the dark band will give viewers the best views of the eclipse.