State Officials Issue Another Dire Eclipse Warning

August 18, 2017Aug 18, 2017

If you live near Oregon and you're considering driving there early Monday to be in the path of the eclipse, Oregon officials are begging you to reconsider. Why? Because you're definitely not the only person considering doing that, and the state has the dire traffic warnings to prove it. 

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson said, "If you try to come down Monday, no matter how early you leave, you're already too late."

He also added that his agency has been planning for eclipse traffic for over a year. He says people don't understand how much traffic will pour into Oregon. 

Thompson explained: "Imagine trying to get to a major NFL playoff game and planning to arrive five minutes before it starts. Do you think you are going to have a good parking experience and make the kickoff?" 

He also shared that he and his colleagues have examined all of the highways leading into Oregon from their nearest neighbor who isn't in the path of the eclipse, Eastern Washington, and most of them are winding, rural roads that won't get anyone near the eclipse quickly or easily. That means virtually everyone will be on the same roads coming into Oregon. 

Thompson added that even if you're able to get down into the cities that are holding festivities, such as Salem or Madras, you most likely won't be able to get off the freeway.

"What happens when you get into Salem and run into a bottleneck of people trying to get off the highway and onto a city street," said Thompson. "We expect the backups to stretch back onto the highway."

If that isn't scary enough, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has sobering news. They're estimating that it will take drivers several hours to get from the highway to the fairgrounds only a few miles away. 

Why will everything take so long? It's because Oregon is expecting to get more traffic than its ever had in the history of the state. They've counted one million people who have booked hotel rooms and campsites. Of course, there will be more people who just show up in the state or are planning on staying with family or friends. 

"There's no way for anyone to fully anticipate all the people who will be staying with friends or trying to wing it" explained Dave House, another Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman. 

Thompson added, "This is unprecedented...So any of your readers coming south need to come early, and I mean days early, not hours, and be prepared to stay put."

If you aren't willing to stay put, they advise everyone to bring plenty of food and water and not to let their gas tanks get too low. And if you end up on the road when the eclipse happens, please don't pull over onto the side of the road to watch the eclipse. Hot cars and dry grass can be a volatile combination. 

"Now you're in the middle of a wildfire that you started," said Thompson. 

Are you planning to travel for the eclipse? Even if you live in another area, these warnings still apply to you. Dry grass and hot cars are always a volatile combination, even in the Midwest or the South. Officials in Oregon aren't the only ones to issue a warning about the eclipse. Pope Francis issued his own warning earlier in the week. 

Next: Pope Francis Sends America Warning About Solar EclipseAug 14, 2017