Nothing I Can Say . . . A Total Eclipse of the Sun . . .

As hopefully everyone is aware of by now, we’re right in the path of totality for a total eclipse of the sun next week! A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the Sun and the Earth and temporarily blocks out the sun! We will spend some time in dusk-like conditions and about two minutes in “darkness” during the morning!

Map of the approximate time and duration of totality across Oregon. Map provided by GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

Some of you might be wondering what the big deal is but this is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us! The last two times that Oregon was in the path of totality was February 26, 1979 and June 8, 1918! A lot of us were not around for the 1979 eclipse either because we didn’t live in Oregon or we weren’t even born yet! And I think it is safe to say that the majority of us weren’t around for the 1918 eclipse! The next two times that Oregon will be in the path of totality are June 25, 2169 and November 20, 2207! Now, I don’t know about you, but I am not planning around for either of those! And I doubt I’ll even be able to travel anywhere in 2024 for the next total eclipse in the US! So this is it!

On top of that, the path of totality is actually very narrow – in the valley, it only stretches from Brownsville in the south to Newberg in the north! Everyone outside of the path of totality will only be able to see a partial solar eclipse!

This map shows the narrow path of totality as well as the percentage of totality that people outside of the path will be able to see. Map provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Which brings us to the final reason this is a big deal – a LOT of people want to see this once in a lifetime event and they are willing and able to travel to see it! Which means they are coming HERE! In the middle of fire season! It is estimated that Oregon’s population will grow temporarily by 25% during the eclipse with over one million expected visitors! That’s a lot of people! And they will all be clamoring for the best vantage point! Whether they know our area or not!

Estimates of how many visitors we can expect in our area during the eclipse. Map provided by Michael Zeiler of GreatAmericanEclipse.com.

This week’s safety tips are going to focus on what you can do to prepare for the eclipse to make this weekend a little bit easier on you and your family and how to safely watch the eclipse whether you decide to stay in or go out into the masses! We’re also going to throw in some tips to help make sure that you are not involved in the 70% of Oregon wildfires started by people accidentally each year! Because it IS still fire season!

A look at the path of totality and the history of wildfires from the last ten years. Note the crossover of planned eclipse events (pink) and human-caused wildfires (yellow). Map provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).

Tips to remember whether you stay in or head out:

-This is a lot like during winter storms – if you don’t need to be on the roads, just stay home! Authorities expect this to be the most traffic in Oregon history! Being on the roads will add to the congestion and make it harder for your volunteers and other agencies to respond! Remember, as volunteers, they first must make it safely to the fire station in their privately owned vehicles with no lights and sirens and then respond on the apparatus!

-Check out the local information on the eclipse. Falls City, Dallas, Monmouth, IndependenceSalem, and many other cities of all sizes are having events of all different kinds that will be fun to join in on but also create traffic and other changes.

-Cell towers might be overwhelmed with the amount of people in the area. If you’re having trouble making calls, try texting or a landline.

Don’t worry about your pets or livestock!

-Wear plenty of sunscreen! The Sun will only be blocked out for a couple of minutes – the rest of the time you’ll be waiting in the Sun!

-Figure out which phases of the eclipse you’d like to see and find out what time they’ll occur so you’ll know when you need to be at your viewing location. Don’t be so focused on the Sun and the Moon that you miss what’s happening here on Earth though!

-Do not trespass on private property. Laws are still in effect even during astronomical events!

-Do not observe the eclipse while driving! Not only is it really distracting leading to accidents, it’s also illegal to just stop or park randomly on most Oregon road surfaces like that! It’s not safe for you and it endangers the lives of first responders like your volunteers when they are trying to get to an emergency!

-You need to wear special solar filters. Yes, really. Do NOT try just wearing sunglasses! You can cause permanent damage to your eyes. The damage adds up over time so even if you are just taking quick peeks instead of staring at the Sun, you can still be permanently damaging your eyes! You need to be aware though that there are a lot of counterfeit filters being sold. This list has filters that are safe for use. As of Sunday night, Safeway has Rainbow Symphony‘s Eclipse Shades near their check outs! These filters meet standards that allow you to look at the Sun for as long as you wish (although not recommended), any three minute warnings on these filters are outdated. If you need to wear glasses, make sure to place the solar filters in FRONT of your glasses!

-Do NOT wear your solar filters while driving! You will not be able to see clearly enough to drive! With proper filters, you shouldn’t be able to see anything at all except for bright lights! Do NOT wear your solar filters while driving!

-Your cameras, telescopes, binoculars, etc. need special solar filters too! Otherwise you can not only damage your eyes but damage your optical equipment too! As of today at 12PM, Focal Point in Dallas is officially out of camera solar filters! They’ve been selling out incredibly fast! They will not be getting anymore in as both brick and mortar and online stores have been selling out across the country and it is difficult for even the stores to get them now! You might want to check into a telephoto lens though – they are better for capturing solar eclipses! Best to call ahead and check before heading into town! And remember, solar filters need to be attached to the FRONT of any sort of lens!

-Do not try to take pictures while driving! Distracted driving is really dangerous. Everyone will be a little distracted during the eclipse, do not add to it. If you want to take a picture of the eclipse, find somewhere you can safely and legally park and take a picture only after parking.

-You can also safely watch through pinhole and optical projection! You can even go old school!

Graphic provided by NASA.

-Do not buy or use any solar filter that is scratched, punctured, torn, or damaged in any way!

-Put your solar filter on before you look up at the sun and take it off after you look away from the sun or the moon has COMPLETELY covered the sun. Anyone outside of the path of totality needs to wear their solar filter the entire event.

-Do NOT look through your camera, telescope, binoculars, or any other sort of lens after putting on your solar filter! Doing so concentrates the Sun’s rays and will damage the filter AND your eyes!

-Supervise children to make sure that they keep their solar filters on!

-Give your eyes a break and look away now and then for just a little bit.

-If you see smoke, fire, or suspicious activity, call it in to the local authorities!

If you decide to stay in:

-Prepare early! Buy gasoline early! Do as much of your shopping and as many of your errands as you can BEFORE this weekend! Many events are starting this Friday which means we should start seeing crowds this Friday! Doing as much as you can before the crowds get here will keep you out of it and off the congested roads!

-Put up “No Trespassing” around your property. Remember that there will be a lot of people in the area, some you will know and some you will not. If you do not usually do so, it might be a good idea to secure everything and keep things locked. Most people will simply want to enjoy the solar eclipse but some might try to take advantage of the chaos the heavy eclipse traffic will throw small towns in.

-If you encounter a trespasser, politely ask them to leave and/or to move their vehicle. If they do not do so, call the Polk County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line (so that 9-1-1 remains free for emergencies) at (503) 623-9251. Please remember that with all of the traffic and just the increase in people themselves, response may be delayed.

If you decide to travel a bit for a better vantage point:

-This is a lot like during winter storms – if you don’t need to be on the roads, just stay home! Authorities expect this to be the most traffic in Oregon history! Being on the roads will add to the congestion and make it harder for your volunteers and other agencies to respond! Remember, as volunteers, they first must make it safely to the fire station in their privately owned vehicles with no lights and sirens and then respond on the apparatus!

-Put up “No Trespassing” around your property before you go. Make sure that everything is secured and locked.

-Buy gas early! Events for the eclipse are starting Friday which means getting necessities like gas are going to become a LOT harder Friday or perhaps even Thursday as people begin pouring into the area!

-Make sure you know where you’re going! The best places are some of the most remote areas! Make sure you know where you’re going and have a map of the area!

-Make sure family and friends who won’t be going with you know where you’ll be going and when you should be back!

-Check out the fire restrictions for the area you intend to be in. You can also talk to the local county sheriff, Forest Service office, or ODF office.

-Use TripCheck.com or call 5-1-1 to check out the route you want to take for any problems – such as traffic accidents, congestion, or closures due to area wildfires.

-Do some basic checks and maintenance on your car to make sure that it is not only ready to handle the trip and traffic but also ready for fire season! All parts of your vehicle, including anything like tow chains, should be properly secured to the vehicle and up off the ground so that they don’t drag along the road and create sparks. Check your tires! Make sure they are filled appropriately, aren’t thin, and don’t have anything that could cause a puncture. After a flat, the bare wheel hitting the pavement can cause sparks. Make sure your exhaust system is in working order – if your catalytic converter becomes worn out, it can cast off super heated pieces of materials. Finally, check to make sure all of your fuel and break lines are in good condition and you have no leaks underneath your car!

-Make sure you have at least 1/2 tank of gas at all times – kinda like during the winter when you might get stranded!

-Make sure you have everything you need in the car! Always carry a fully charged cell phone with you. Make sure you have plenty of water, some snacks, and comfort items in case you get caught in the predicted nightmare traffic. Also have a shovel, fire extinguisher, and at least a gallon of extra water just in case you accidentally start a fire.

-Make sure everyone takes one last trip to the bathroom before you get in the car!

-Carpool! If you and your friends are going to the same location and you can safely and legally fit in one car, why not travel together? Carpooling means less cars on the road and can help ease congestion.

-Plan to leave early to help avoid crowds and make sure you have enough time to get to where you’re going. Stay put during the event – people, even drivers, are going to be a bit distracted! Leave late to avoid crowds. We do not want everyone on the road all at one time! And that’s not just the day of! Try to leave before the 20th and to head home after the 22nd if you can. As News Lincoln City puts it, “This is NOT a game day: Please treat the 3-minute eclipse as a 3-DAY event.”

-Expect traffic changes at the city, county, and state level. Some towns will have roads closed off. You may or may not be able to make certain turns off the highway. Our roads will be trying to accommodate our share of Oregon’s one million visitors. ODOT and other agencies will do their best to keep things moving normally but expect changes!

Road closures in the City of Dallas from the morning of Friday, August 18 to late afternoon Monday, August 21. Map provided by the City of Dallas.

-To report a roadside hazard, call 1-888-275-6368, option 1. For emergencies, you should call 9-1-1 as usual.

-Remember that during fire season, off-roading is actually prohibited in a lot of places, including our own district, so stay on the road!

-Do not idle or park on grass. Incredibly dry vegetation and your car’s exhaust system are not friends!

-Stay on the trails! Going off the trail disturbs and can even damage the wildlife!

-Leave no trace. Leave the trail and/or your campsite better than you found it! If you pack it in, you pack it out!

For Motor Carriers and Commcercial Motor Vehicle Drivers:

-No overwidth loads will be allowed to operate anywhere in Oregon from noon Friday August 18 to 12:01 a.m., Tuesday August 22.  Emergency moves still require a permit.

-Scale locations may be used for staging by law enforcement and emergency response vehicles.  Available locations have limited parking and may fill up early.

-Nearly all ODOT construction and non-emergency maintenance on state highways in the path of totality will be shut down August 18-22.

-Other construction and non-emergency work will be curtailed depending on the expected traffic impact of the eclipse.

-With hundreds of thousands of additional visitors expected in Oregon, fire danger will be especially high. Motor carriers should be wary of fire dangers.

-With no hotel and motel rooms available, rest areas and roadside pullouts may have people camping in place, which is a danger to safe highway operations and will worsen parking problems for commercial motor vehicles.

-Most fairgrounds are booked for events so no large emergency parking areas are available to commercial motor vehicles stuck in traffic.

-Non-essential motor carrier staff are encouraged to telecommute, and traffic issues may delay essential staff.  Please be prepared for extended phone hold times when calling during normal business hours.

As the Oregon State Police have been telling people, “Plan ahead, be prepared, and above all else be patient!” We hope everyone has a memorable, fun, and safe total solar eclipse! As always, we’re here on the dark side of the moon if you need us!

ARE YOU READY FOR THE ECLIPSE ON AUGUST 21st?

Did you know that during the upcoming total solar eclipse on August 21st, you might see SHADOW SNAKES? Eclipses ARE WAY MORE AMAZING THAN I THOUGHT. Shadow snakes, Baily's beads, Diamond Rings, If you know what you're looking for you'll see some CRAZY things. Please share this video!!

Posted by Smarter Every Day on Sonntag, 11. Juni 2017

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