SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) — We are two weeks away from the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in almost 100 years. Expect gridlock, on certain highways, from people returning from what’s being dubbed the “solar eclipse of the century.”
State, local and federal agencies are working together to make sure your eclipse viewing is a safe one.
Authorities say treat this as if you’re anticipating and traveling in a heavy snow storm. Salt Lake will have a partial eclipse, neighboring states will experience about 2 and a half minutes of totality, but viewers might be spending hours of extra time on the road if they’re not prepared.
“We haven’t really seen anything like this no one knows what to expect, ” says John Gleason, UDOT. Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Highway Patrol and other state, local and federal agencies are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Sgt. Todd Royce, UHP says “We’re always preparing for that natural catastrophe and in those situations cell phones always go down.”
Everyone will be on their phones for this event. Instead of calling, text so you use less data.
The eclipse should be visible on a line stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. Authorities are worried about distracted drivers. Viewing time for our area will be between 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on August 21 lasting about two and a half minutes.
UHP says if you pull off the highway to view the eclipse it is considered a non-emergency and they’ll be issuing citations. Millions are expected to flock to areas that offer the best views.
Idaho is bracing for an influx of half a million people in their state, Wyoming 350,000 and many of those vehicles will be passing through Utah. Authorities across the border say arrive early and leave late. Just like in a snow storm, pack your car with plenty of food, water, blankets. Make sure you’re on a full tank of gas.
UDOT says with cars traveling long distances and then stopping, that could spark wildfires.