Prepare for gridlock as motorists head to see eclipse

Story Body

Washington and many other states are bracing for unprecedented traffic problems on the days surrounding the Aug. 21 total eclipse.

The last time a total solar eclipse shadowed the lower forty-eight was in 1979, when its path of totality crossed over the state, giving many Washingtonians a chance to witness the kind of eclipse seen from Earth once every 18 months. A total eclipse won’t be visible from the West Coast again until 2045, when it will cross northern California.

This month, Washington will be north of the eclipse’s path of totality, which will span from Oregon to South Carolina. People in Washington will see only the moon partially covering the sun — unless they head south.

There is no sure way to predict how many Washington drivers will travel to see the total eclipse. What officials do know is that hotels, campgrounds and other types of lodging along the path of totality were booked months — and sometimes years — in advance.

Officials also assume that people who couldn’t secure lodging for the eclipse will drive into the path of totality on the morning of Monday, Aug. 21. And once the eclipse is done, return traffic is expected to be heavy into Tuesday.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has authorized the National Guard to help manage the expected surge of up to 1 million tourists. Gov. Jay Inslee is asking Washington residents driving south to plan ahead and use caution.

The Washington State Department of Transportation is telling motorists to prepare for significant traffic delays similar to those encountered during a large winter storm. Or imagine Seattle traffic after a Seahawks game, on top of traffic backed up from a road-construction project.

Read the rest of the story on the governor’s Medium page.

Media Contacts

Tara Lee
Governor Inslee’s Communications Office