Solar Eclipse: Natural Wonder or Insane Traffic Jam?

Map of Solar Eclipse and America’s Biggest Traffic Jam

It’s almost as if people never watched Tarzan movies when they were kids.  Everybody is freaking out over The Solar Eclipse That Swallowed America.  I am too old to remember all the solar eclipses I have seen, but the last one I viewed was from my mom’s house in Rochester, NY, back in 1994.

Let me shed a little light on the topic, please.

First of all … it might rain on Monday afternoon August 21, 2017 when the Sun Goes Dark.  Or, it might be cloudy.  Please remember that before you book a flight to some remote mountaintop that will be — sorry — so filled with other Eclipse Gazers that you might only see the back of somebody else’s head.

Staying closer to home?  Say … Blood Mountain or somewhere in “the mountains” of North Georgia?  Seriously.  Plan to watch the eclipse from the side of the highway somewhere, stuck in traffic.  It’s going to be crazy.

The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore, who knows a LOT of cool stuff, linked to this website with info on traffic expected in North Georgia:

A good example might be the Atlanta metropolitan area, home to over 5,700,000 people and the ninth largest metropolitan area in the United States.  Atlanta is just outside of the totality path and will witness a 97 percent partial eclipse.

If anyone in the Atlanta metro area wants to experience the total eclipse, all they would need to do is travel about 80 miles (130 km) to the northeast on Interstate 85, the arterial road of the Southeast.

Normally, such a trip would take about 90 minutes.  But while most who live in Atlanta might initially say they’re not planning to travel into the totality zone, many could very well change their minds the night before, or even the morning of the eclipse, and head out of town to get a look at the much-ballyhooed big sky show.

If that happens, then on that Monday morning, Interstate 85 could turn into the world’s longest parking lot and a 1.5-hour drive might take twice as long — or maybe even longer.

“Travelers should be at their observation location a minimum of a couple hours before totality,” advised the Federal Highway Administration.  “The role of state and local DOTs may include instituting roadblocks or other measures to keep people from making illegal turns as they drive around looking for ‘the perfect spot’ as eclipse totality nears.”

And there is also anticipation of a mass exodus: “Departures will be more compressed as there is no reason to remain after the period of totality has passed.”

Let’s recap the score.  A bazillion cars clogging two-lane roads in North Georgia to get to a spot to view the solar eclipse.  Everyone stopping to watch the eclipse, then everyone leaving at the same time.

Pffft.   What could possibly go wrong?

Don’t want to hassle with the crowds?  Here’s a dandy Plan B: The Great Solar Eclipse Tailgate & Viewing Party at Downtown Drafts on the Square in Gainesville, from 11 AM until 4 or so.

I’m not a drinker, but they have all sorts of brews for Millennials and such.  What’s better than that?  The best dang root beer around and homemade lemonade.

What’s for dessert?  Moonpies!

Great American Eclipse Facts & Stuff

About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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