KYTC Eclipse

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (7/31/17) — With three weeks to go before the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials urges anyone planning to travel to western Kentucky to view the eclipse to make plans now. The appeal comes as traffic engineers and police agencies prepare for up to 500,000 visitors flocking to 10 Kentucky counties along center line of the eclipse corridor.

“We want visitors to come and take in this once-in-a-lifetime event, but we also want them to be prepared for issues a mass migration of people heading to the eclipse corridor may create,” KYTC District 2 Chief Engineer Wade Clements said.

The total solar eclipse will sweep across 14 states. Listed among the Top 10 eclipse viewing sites along the path, the Hopkinsville area already boasts visitors from 16 countries and 34 states on the guest list.

Preparing for a massive influx of visitors, state and local agencies have issued tips for businesses, for cross-country travelers and truckers, and for local residents. The focus is now on visitors coming to experience the event.

Clements said perhaps the best approach for visitors is to come early, select a specific viewing area, be prepared to stay put, and be willing to hang around until the initial wave of departing traffic clears.

Eclipse chasers are expected to start arriving in the area around Friday, Aug. 18, then continue to filter in with a final surge on the morning of the Aug. 21 eclipse. The partial eclipse will begin around noon, and the total solar eclipse – starting about 1:20 p.m. CDT in Kentucky – will last about 2.5 minutes. KYTC is suggesting visitors do their part by planning a specific place to view the eclipse, ideally one that has adequate parking, good access to rest rooms, and with restaurants or other food sources within walking distance. In addition, visitors should bring plenty of water, sunscreen and insect repellant.

“We anticipate heavy traffic starting the Saturday before the eclipse, maybe sooner,” said Clements. “On the morning of the Aug. 21 eclipse, we anticipate a surge of people driving in just for the day and another surge right after the eclipse as people who have driven in for the day head home. That departing traffic could last well into the evening hours. We also anticipate a final surge of traffic during the day on Tuesday, as visitors who are camping or staying the night in a hotel start to leave the area.”

Officials offer the following tips for eclipse visitors in preparation for their celestial experience:

- Be prepared for hot weather. Temps in mid-to-late August can be in the 90s.
- Bring plenty of water – about a gallon a day per person.
- Bring sun screen, insect repellant, and first aid items.
- Bring picnic or snack items. Restaurants and grocery stores may experience long lines.
- Pick a viewing location with rest rooms and easy access to restaurants or other source of food.
- Do not stop along highways. Vehicles on the shoulder hinder traffic flow and create a traffic hazard.
- Be prepared for long lines at fuel pumps. Access to fuel may be limited.
- Be aware that heavy traffic congestion may interfere with delivery of food, fuel and other supplies along the total eclipse corridor.
- Be careful – while local agencies are gearing up for large crowds, heavy traffic may hinder the ability of emergency agencies to respond.
- Be patient – you are likely to encounter slow-moving traffic at some point during your visit.
- Bring a GPS based navigation unit as cell phone navigation may be sketchy due to heavy cell and data traffic.
- If your group is traveling in several vehicles consider communicating with two-way radios as cell service near the total eclipse corridor may be limited due to heavy demand.

Traffic through Kentucky along Interstate 24 and Interstate 69, as well as along the Pennyrile Parkway and the U.S. 68/KY 80 corridor in the western half of the state, is expected to be especially congested for several days before, during and after the eclipse.

Clements noted that all of the agencies planning for the eclipse want visitors to have a safe and positive experience so they’ll come back when the area isn’t quite so crowded.

For traffic and travel information specific to the area encompassing the path of eclipse totality in Kentucky, like these pages: and

For real-time Kentucky traffic and travel information, visit or download the Waze app.

Additional eclipse planning resources are available at these sites:

Eclipse Fact Sheet

The total eclipse is truly a once-in-a- lifetime event. According to NASA, any given point on the planet will only experience a total solar eclipse about once every 375 years. Ten western Kentucky counties are bracing for an influx of anywhere from 100,000 visitors up to a half-million or more starting about four days before August 21st eclipse. Another 11 Counties are expecting heavy traffic as visitors head for the total eclipse corridor.

Kentucky will be a favored travel destination for the eclipse. According to weather experts, Kentucky and Tennessee have the least likelihood of cloud cover that might block eclipse viewing opportunities.

Over the weekend of Aug 19 and 20, and on Eclipse Day, Aug 21, visitors and local residents alike can expect heavy traffic, long lines at grocery stores, restaurants, and at convenience store/service stations.
Once the eclipse is over at about 3 p.m., CDT, on Monday, Aug 21, expect traffic issues akin to what Louisville faces before and after the Kentucky Derby or Thunder Over Louisville. Motorists are advised to plan ahead before traveling to or through the region the day of the eclipse.
Increased visitors in the area create a potential for gridlock along the 93-mile Interstate 24 corridor through Kentucky and along KY 91 between Princeton and Hopkinsville. Expect local roadways to become heavily congested as well. In an effort to minimize traffic delays, KYTC is partnering with local law enforcement, Kentucky State Police and emergency planning agencies to assist with traffic control before, during and after the event.
Local and state officials are asking visitors who plan to travel to view the eclipse and people who live within the eight counties in the total eclipse zone to be fully prepared for what they will encounter.

• The first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years
• First eclipse event driven by social media
• Once in a lifetime experience as Total Solar Eclipses are rare
• August 21st Event covers parts of 14 states and stretches 93 miles across Kentucky
• The eclipse will be viewable as a partial eclipse from anywhere in the U.S.
• The path of totality—where the moon completely blocks the sun—is 67 miles wide and touches parts of 10 Kentucky counties (McCracken, Livingston, Marshall, Crittenden, Hopkins, Lyon, Caldwell, Trigg, Christian, and Todd).
• Another 11 Kentucky Counties will have potential traffic impact due to visitors traveling to and from the eclipse zone
• The eclipse in Kentucky is expected to last from about 12 Noon to about 3 p.m., CDT with totality of just over 2.5 minutes along the main path

Potential impact

NASA estimates of the number of visitors coming to Kentucky range from 100,000 to 500,000. estimates 65,000 to 100,000. Using the median NASA estimate, the eclipse could realistically bring 300,000 visitors to the region.

Large crowds are expected to gather along the path of totality. One venue along KY 91 has raised their original estimate for the Sol-Quest event from 8,000 participants to the 15 to 20 thousand range. That free event alone would create the potential for gridlock along this rural 2-lane highway

Specific recommendations for optimum eclipse viewing:

• Pick a specific place to watch the eclipse- No parking along highway right-of-way as that creates hazards for you and others

• Restroom & Concession facilities will be at a premium- Pick a viewing location with appropriate facilities

• Bring appropriate food and water for the duration of your planned say

• Have a specific place to stay- Either a hotel room or appropriate campsite
• Be prepared for traffic as thousands of visitors may create traffic gridlock at some critical intersections and interchanges, particularly along the I-24 Corridor and KY 91 Corridor

Suggestions for businesses:

– Consider early and overnight delivery of critical supplies due to expected daytime traffic snarls.
– Consider increasing inventory of basic items with temporary storage space prior to the eclipse.
– Prepare for congestion and traffic jams.
– Consider flex work schedules to avoid expected difficult travel conditions.
– Encourage employees to have a full tank of gas prior to the time visitors begin to arrive in the area.

Suggestions for Local Residents:

- The impact of heavy traffic on the ability to get to and from work in a timely manner.
- Potential long lines at fuel pumps, limiting access to fuel needed to get to and from work.
- Ability of vendors to deliver food, fuel, groceries and other critical supplies due to traffic congestion.
- Possible cell service and data service issues due to heavy demand.

Why go to such great lengths to witness such a fleeting moment?

For some, it is a spiritual experience that reminds them of their tiny place in an awesome universe. For others, it is a scientific or photographic pursuit. Many eclipse chasers marvel at the reaction of nearby wildlife, as birds go silent and nocturnal animals come out of hiding. My first eclipse gave me an adrenaline rush, akin to a two-minute roller coaster plunge. The second one had a calming effect, as if my heart had melted.

There is long list of reasons for chasing the disappearing sun, including the 360 degree sunset and the opportunity to view the stars and planets during the daytime, when they are in a different position than at night.

While the total solar eclipse lasts only a couple of minutes, the entire process lasts about 3 hours. First contact—when the moon and sun first appear to "touch"—occurs more than an hour before totality begins, and starts as a tiny nibble from the sun's edge. As the eclipse progresses, the moon takes bigger and bigger "bites," until it swallows the sun entirely and repeats the process, in reverse, for an equal length of time. So while the main event is fleeting, the build-up and finale stretch out for nearly three hours.

What's the Big Deal?

This relatively rare astronomical phenomenon happens only when the earth, moon, and sun align in such a way that the moon blocks out the sun for those lucky people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.

In order to see the heart of darkness during a total solar eclipse, you must be inside the path of totality. If you're outside the path, the best you can hope for is a partial eclipse.

The "path" is a 67-mile wide band of earth that swipes diagonally across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The closer you get to the "center line" of the path, the longer the total eclipse lasts.

Scout Out Your Own Spot

To identify a suitable spot on the line, consult of the 2017 total solar eclipse to identify the center line and the path of totality, and then physically scout out reachable locations as close as possible to the center line to find an unobstructed view that won't be blocked by trees, mountains, rock formations, or clouds. The ideal spot should offer restrooms, ample parking, and open space to view the eclipse.
Pro Tips from an Eclipse Chaser

Want to make the most of your eclipse experience? Follow these tips from those in the know.

1) Almost Doesn't Count

The difference between 2 minutes of totality and a split second of totality is nothing compared to the difference between a split second of totality and a partial eclipse. If you can't get close to the center line, get inside the path of totality.

2) Arrive Early

If you're planning to watch the eclipse drive in a day or more in advance. Local roads are not designed to handle tens of thousands of visitors converging all at once, and a typical 90-minute drive could easily stretch to several hours. Missing the eclipse because you’re stuck in traffic would not be good.

3) Procure Protective Eyewear

During the total solar eclipse, when the sun is completely hidden behind the moon, it is safe to stare at the eclipse with the naked eye. But before and after that limited window of time, there is a nearly [two hour] prelude and conclusion that can only be safely viewed through No. 14 welding glass, specially-designed solar eclipse glasses, or a DIY pinhole projector. You can purchase welding glass at local welding supply stores or online, and eclipse viewing glasses make their way to local stores as the date approaches. Be sure to check eclipse viewing glasses for the ISO certification tag.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Keith Todd

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