2017 Solar Eclipse Brings Tourism, Strain on Infrastructure to the Northwest

Solar eclipse

On Monday, August 21, 2017, millions of Americans will be able to witness the first solar eclipse occurring in the continental United States in nearly 38 years. The last eclipse took place in 1979. Due to the combination of the 1979 eclipse path and inclement weather, few people in the Northwest were able to see it.

While the prospect of viewing an eclipse is exciting, municipalities in Oregon are preparing for a significant influx of tourists that will bring commerce and an increased strain on infrastructure to the area. While estimates are difficult to predict, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management anticipates at least over 1 million visitors to the state for several days on either side of the solar event. As the event occurs during prime vacation season, nearly everything from hotels to restaurants to roads will be over normal capacity.

If you are planning on attending, the OEM offers resources on how to properly prepare for the convergence of sky-watchers. Be sure to pack extra water, first aid kits, food supplies, and expect an increased strain on cellphone towers to diminish coverage. Try to anticipate traffic delays and pack for various types of weather. Familiarize yourself with the area you are attending, the road system, as well as other places of service such as gas stations, bathrooms, hospitals, parks, and grocery stores.

To view the eclipse, NASA has provided helpful information regarding safety precautions and a list of certified vendors from which to purchase special lenses.

Note: The following PayneWest locations will be closed Monday, August 21st, in the due to population increases in the affected areas: Newport, Madras, Albany, McMinnville, and Baker City, Oregon, as well as Pocatello, Idaho. They will reopen the following day.