The nation is all astir over the total solar eclipse, which will take place on Monday, Aug. 21. Molalla is expected to experience one minute and 55 seconds of complete darkness. But with the once-in-a-lifetime event comes safety concerns.
It is anticipated that there will be one to two million additional people traveling to Oregon for the event. According to a news release from the Oregon Department of Transportation, "The total solar eclipse that morning will likely be the busiest traffic event in Oregon history." But they warn further, "This is NOT a game day: Please treat the 3-hour eclipse as a 3-DAY event."
There's no telling for sure the complications that could arise, but the key is to plan ahead so that the experience is enjoyable. Here are some safety tips in time for the eclipse.
1) Get your shopping done
Fire Lieutenant Byron Wakefield said that store shelves could be bare at the time of the eclipse, so be sure to stock your homes ahead of time with food and water for people and animals.
2) Get gas now
Gas prices may climb significantly as the day gets closer. According to Marie Dodds at AAA, prices in Molalla have already been rising over the last week and are expected to continue an upward climb. She also warns that there are some concerns about supplies running out because of the influx of people flooding to Oregon.
"Our state is just not used to that kind of volume," Dodds said.
Be sure to fill up your tank before you break the bank.
3) Don't count on technology
Wakefield warns that cellphones may not be reliable during the event because of the influx of people overburdening cell towers. Power outages are a possibility too. So make communication plans and get out those candles.
4) Don't get stuck
One of the last places you'll want to be when the eclipse happens is on the road. With traffic expected to be the worst in Oregon history, it's important to leave home early to get to your viewing location.
5) Prepare for traffic
No one can predict exactly how many cars will be on the roads, but Fire Chief Vince Stafford expects that Molalla will experience additional traffic on eclipse weekend, mainly due to the fact that Highways 211 and 213 offer alternate routes when accidents happen on the major freeways.
"Think back to the traffic gridlock that we experienced during our winter snow event," Dodds said. "Plan on a long trip. What might normally be an hour drive may take much much longer than that."
Both ODOT and AAA suggest arriving early and staying late to avoid the heaviest traffic. If you have to be on the roads that weekend, make sure your car is stocked with food, water, an emergency kit and jumper cables.
6) Know where you are
If you plan to climb to the highest heights for viewing the eclipse, make sure that you're prepared for the trek. Grab your gear, food and water, but also know your route. Chief Stafford suggests avoiding unknown side roads so that in the event of an emergency, you can be found easily.
Word has gotten out that special glasses are required for viewing the eclipse. But Stafford cautions that even with the glasses, people should not use binoculars, scopes or even cell phones to zoom in on the eclipse as it could cause serious eye damage.
"Those aren't designed for magnification, they're just designed for looking," Stafford said.
Lastly, enjoy the view!