Plan ahead or you might miss out
Up to 600,000 people may head to Wyoming
Coloradans hoping to catch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse at the last minute shouldn’t count on catching the moment when the sun is blacked out by the moon.
Without a strategy to view the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle, they may find themselves stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Interstate 25 instead.
When the sky darkens during the much-anticipated event, it will be the wellprepared who get to enjoy its splendor.
Among the key tips: leave early, pack extra supplies and arrange a place to stay ahead of time. Otherwise, risk facing bumper-to-bumper traffic and overcrowded campsites at every turn.
Some are predicting that up to 600,000 people will travel to Wyoming (2016 population: 585,501), hoping to squeeze into the 67-milewide swath of darkness — known as the path of totality — that will cut across the state that morning, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
About two-thirds of those visitors are expected to flood into Wyoming from the south, putting an incredible stress on roads such as I-25, which usually carries about 83,000 vehicles per day, CDOT spokesman Jared Fiel said.
“We are fully planning for it to be pretty bad. The earlier you can get up there, the better, because we really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Fiel said.
CDOT is encouraging eclipse enthusiasts to proceed with caution as they plan their journey to Wyoming or Nebraska to be in the path of totality.
Officials suggest people pack extra food and water, and to get a cellphone up- date by texting the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777.
The path of totality takes up nearly 3 million acres of public land in Wyoming, Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Cindy Wertz said.
With campsites in Wyoming and across the country booked, BLM is expecting an influx of people to public land, where they can pitch tents where they like.
Anyone planning to camp on public land should pick up a land-status map, to be sure you don’t veer onto private property. They can be acquired at a local BLM office, Wertz said.
Traffic and finding a perfect campsite aren’t the only inconveniences in the run-up to the eclipse. Cellphone service also may be hard to come by.
“Certainly the cell towers in Wyoming weren’t meant to handle that situation,” CDOT’S Fiel said, suggesting travelers bring walkietalkies.
AT&T is deploying two cell towers on wheels in Wyoming to boost network capacity, spokeswoman Suzanne Trantow said.
The mobile cell towers, which provide extra coverage during large events, will be placed at Glendo Reservoir, near I-25 southeast of Casper, and at the Teton County Fairgrounds in Jackson, on the west side of the state. AT&T also has added network capacity in Jackson and Casper in anticipation of the eclipse.
“Everyone is going to look to snap, stream and share photos,” Trantow said. “We expect our customers to be able to use our phones as they do on the average day.”
Viewers should be sure to bring eclipse glasses to protect their eyes while enjoying the spectacle.
NASA posted a list of reputable vendors of the eclipse glasses at eclipse2017.nasa.gov. Get a pair that has been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet ISO safety standards.
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