The Great American Eclipse 2017 is rapidly approaching, and if you have not made plans to join the millions of Americans who are heading to see this great event you have less than two months to do it.
This will be the first total eclipse seen on the West Coast in 99 years and also the first since then to cross the entire continental United States. It’s very rare that an eclipse is seen only in one country. The next time it will occur fully across the U.S. will be in 2315. Most of us will likely not be around for that one.
Just after 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 21, this great spectacle will sweep across the Oregon coast line, past Salem, on over to Bend then Baker, then continue on at some 3,000 miles per hour heading for South Carolina.
Weather is always a critical with viewing an eclipse. Cloudy day, tough luck. Wait until next time, though it becomes a very dark cloudy day in mid-event.
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Central and Eastern Oregon have the best weather predictions across the country, though St. Louis, Nashville and other areas have their collective fingers crossed as they are directly in the line of travel.
If you have not booked a hotel room you might as well join me. Bring along your sleeping bag, cooler full of food and drink and plenty of patience. My daughter started checking hotels a year ago and even then most were sold out. Even the lowly chains are charging upward of $1,000 per night for the event.
My personal guess is that some 2 million Californians will head up I-5. Most will going to the Salem/Eugene area, joining a likely million or so coming down from the Northwest. It will likely be a colossal traffic jam, with sold-out gas stations and lots of frustrated hopeful viewers.
Eastern Oregon should have better weather chances and less traffic. That’s where I will be headed.
Having experienced the great 1991 Baja Eclipse, I can make several suggestions.
First, get to your expected viewing area at least the day before. The traffic on eclipse morning could be total gridlock, especially on I-5 and Highway 101.
Second, take plenty of provisions and survival gear. There will be a lot of folks who will be doing last-minute shopping; gas, refreshments, ice and basics will be gone from many stores.
Third, don’t plan on making a hasty retreat post-event. We found in Baja, even 1,000 miles south of the border, that there were endless long lines of vehicles headed north for several days.
If you cannot attend in person, then you will see a partial eclipse here in Central California. The sun will be about 80 percent covered. In fact California utility regulators are estimating a loss of some 6 megavolts of solar-generated power in just those few hours of partial sun coverage.
Which brings us to the most important suggestion, which relates to proper eye protection.
At no time should you look directly at the sun during the partial coverage. Only for the 2 minutes of totality is a direct look safe.
We use the No.14 welder’s glass, which gives a total black view unless directly looking at the sun. The glass is cheap, less than $10, and far more effective than the little pin hole boxes we made when we were in school (in the interest of full disclosure, yes, I do own part interest in a welding supply company).
Take it from one who drove eight days and 3,500 miles to see the Baja Eclipse, the effort is well worth it. Viewing a total eclipse is a lifetime experience!
Dick Hagerty, an Oakdale real estate developer active in non-profits. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.