Great American Eclipse of 2017

Did you hear? The Great American Eclipse is set to occur on August 21st. In case you’ve been living under a rock, or haven’t but want to have as much information as possible, here’s a recap from what we learned during Bend’s Chamber of Commerce What’s Brewing event, Solar Eclipse edition.  

Science

Jim Todd, Director of Space Science Education at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) had lots to share about what makes this eclipse such an unique opportunity. First, the last time there was a total solar eclipse visible within the continental United States (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, specifically) was back on February 26, 1979 and, unfortunately, the spectacle was dampered due to overcasted skies. Second, an event like this won’t happen for another 154 years. So, unless you’ve found the fountain of youth and are willing to share it with the rest of us, the odds of being around for that, are not in our favor. Lastly, it is being referred to as the Great American Eclipse because it will move across the entire continental United States, coast to coast. Out of all the cities in the path of totality, the city of Madras in Central Oregon is said to have the best chances of clear skies to view the eclipse.

Sun - Moon - Earth

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. If you are in the path of totality, you’ll be able to see the corona, the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere. And the hype about it, is real. He emphasized that there is nothing in this world that can compare to it, which is why so many people form all over the world are traveling to see it. So, it is good to know that, if you are not in the path of totality, you won’t see the corona and, the farther you are from the path, the less of the coverage you’ll see. Check out NASA’s Eclipse 2017 page for more information, including an interactive map with exact time of total eclipse based on coordinates

Travel

Kristin McConnell, Industry Relations Manager at the Central Oregon Visitors Association (COVA), shared some insights and tips.

Don’t get suck on highway 101

For those not familiar with Oregon’s coast, it’s important to note that, along with the colder weather, the coast is also known for the fog that rolls in during the earlier hours of the day. Given that the eclipse is set to occur in the morning hours, chances are you’ll miss the whole event if you are stuck on Oregon’s highway 101.

Communications plan

Although the State of Oregon has been preparing for this event for several years, there’s a chance some services may be interrupted, including cell reception. It was shared that most carries are set to bring additional resources to supply the increase in demand for network bandwidth but, it is encouraged that individuals have a communications plan. If all else fails and you can’t reach anyone by cell phone, what’s your plan?

2-1-1 phone number

A 211 number will be set up to handle general information questions from the community and visitors alike. For example, if you are needing to know where to dump waste water from your RV, or if a shelter is set up for any reason, you may receive information by calling that number.

Children and eye safety

This may be one of the most important pieces of information to be shared. Whatever you do, please make sure children understand and are kept safe from the eye damage that direct viewing of the sun during the eclipse can cause. Here are four ways to safely view a solar eclipse from the American Optometric Association.

Safety

If you live in Central Oregon or will find your way to our area for the eclipse, Sergeant Nathan Garibay, Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Emergency Service Manager, shared what to expect and how to prepare.

Due to the high number of people expected to come through (about 1,000,000 are said to be coming into Oregon for the event), he emphasized the importance of preparedness. He asks “can you survive for five to seven days without going to the supermarket, gas station or pharmacy?” If the answer is no, you have some preparing to do.

Food, gas, and medications

Although an eclipse is not a natural disaster, he urges citizens to treat is as one when it comes to preparedness.

  • For food, make sure you have enough available in case you can’t make it to the store, or food becomes scarce.
  • Given the expected influx from people driving into, through and out of Central Oregon, and how difficult it may be for gas providers to reach gas stations due to high traffic, it would be prudent to make sure you fill up your tank a few days before the eclipse. If possible, safely store a gas container with extra fuel, just in case. As a note, the highest percentage of visitors are expected to arrive on Friday, August 18, so plan accordingly.  
  • It is also suggested you make sure you refill (if need be) any medications you may need during a period of 3-5 days before and after the eclipse.

Stuck on the road?

Please, please, please exercise good judgment. Central Oregon is, and will probably still be, on high alert for wild fires. If you are on the road please don’t throw any cigarette butts out the window. Also, please don’t stop your car in the middle of the road if you happen to be stuck on the road during the total eclipse. Chances are very high that there will be lots of cars on the road a few days before, the day of, and a few days after the eclipse. We need everyone’s help to stay safe, keep our surroundings safe, and help everyone get home safely.

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