With less than a week left before the “Great American Eclipse”, locales across the nation are growing worried about the once-in-a-lifetime event.
No, they’re not all that concerned with some of the stranger predictions for August 21st, 2017, including some worries that household pets will act strangely, or that the end of the world is coming, (once again). Instead, many municipalities within the path of the eclipse’s totality are preparing for a mundane, yet worrisome, threat: Americans.
While the eclipse itself will travel the entire length of the continental United States on Monday, only a small fraction of the U.S. will fall in what is called the “band of totality” where the sun will be fully hidden by the moon. This path cuts the nation in half, starting in the Pacific Northwest and leaving American soil after passing through the Carolinas, with it’s fair share of small town America falling dead center. This means that Americans, who will be flocking to the epicenter by the millions, will be descending upon small town U.S.A., traveling two-lane blacktops and backroads into some of the nation’s least visited areas.
This has created a great deal of concern for state and local authorities who will be forced to directly deal with this onslaught. While traffic jams and reduced mobility for emergency services has been the main concern throughout the preparations, many experts warn that wildfires could also play a role.
“Four wildfires are currently burning in or near the path of totality. Officials worry about the potential for more fires from lightning strikes or campers.
“Fire crews are preparing for the likelihood of at least a few small fires tied to eclipse activities. Crews will be stationed north and south of key areas to improve access, said Bobbi Doan, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
“‘For us, if we do have a fire start, it’s about putting it out as soon as we can,’ she said.
“The state’s risk assessment deemed the probability of a major wildfire or emergency evacuation at moderate to high, with probable locations including rural areas with campsites.
“The worst-case scenario, officials said, is a man-made blaze that endangers lives and makes travel in or out of a confined, mountainous area difficult or impossible.”
Travelers, as always, are asked to exercise caution, and those planning to spend the eclipse in the wilderness should take extra care in their preparations.
Officials have been asking eclipse tourists to think of the solar spectacle as a three day event, and not a day-trip, hoping to have a great many of those traveling Americans in place well before the moon and sun cross paths on Monday.