[Disclaimer: I totally failed at using a calendar. April 8, 2024 is a Monday, I think. Ignore my discussion of it being a weekend below until I’ve had a chance to revise this post].
The year is currently 2017. August 22, to be exact. Do you remember what happened yesterday? It was the “Great American Eclipse” or some other such grandiose name. It was an epic eclipse, crossing the entire country, visible in one way or another from the whole mainland. I went into the totality zone, like millions of others, and these are my notes to the future citizens of planet earth–those people contemplating viewing the 2024 eclipse from the totality zone.
My first thought-do it. It will be April 8, which will be a Saturday (assuming strange things don’t happen before then). Most people will not have to work, but if you do, do your best to get the day off. There won’t be any kids in school, so take them too. The experience is like nothing else, and is rare enough that some people may never get to see one in person. It is a full body experience (ok, I didn’t notice any different scents or tastes, but the other three senses were impacted).
My second thought is-traffic will be worse on April 8 2024 than it was August 21, 2017. I’ll guess it will be three or four times worse. Maybe a hundred. Whatever, traffic will be bad. So here are my suggestions for dealing with it.
- Do not travel to small towns who are marketing themselves to eclipse watchers. In all likelihood, they won’t really know how to deal with the influx. Hopkinsville, KY made this mistake in 2017, and it took people 3+ hours just to get out of “Hoptown”. The town is maybe 7 miles in diameter. It should take 20 minutes to fully cross, and only 10 minutes to get out. 18 times normal. That’s pretty bad.
- Do not travel large distances, and hope to get home the day of the eclipse. I personally know one family that spent 16 hours driving what would normally be a 6 hour trip. My personal experience wasn’t quite so bad: 9 hours to travel what normally would have been 5.5. Your mileage may vary, but assume a factor of 2-3 times normal.
- If you’re going to arrange for a place to stay in totality, stay there for a night or two after the eclipse. I’m pretty sure, based on the level of traffic after the 2017 eclipse that most people had arranged to arrive early, but then EVERYONE left at the same time.
Finally, make sure you provide for shade and toilet needs on the time approaching the eclipse. I had only half planned for these details, and they ended up working out in my favor. I willingly paid $20 to hang out in a municipal park where there were flush toilets, trees, and emergency services if they were needed.