Solar eclipse almost here


During a recent meeting in Genoa Township, Trustee Renee Vaughan summarized the advice being given by officials for the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 as “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Other local government officials have said residents should stock up on groceries and gasoline prior to the event. The concern is that there will be an influx of sightseers in Delaware County, trying to catch a glimpse of the totality (in their special glasses, of course). Schools and some businesses are closed that day, in part to avoid the expected traffic jams.

A release from the City of Delaware states the eclipse will begin in the city at approximately 1:55 p.m.

“Beginning at 3:11 pm, eclipse seekers can expect to witness ‘totality’ in the city of Delaware for approximately 2 minutes, 35 seconds,” the release states. “State planners anticipate that those traveling to and through Delaware County on the day of the eclipse could double the county’s population. The City of Delaware has been working with the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to address this influx of visitors and the potential strain on resources.”

In preparation of the event, the city has released the following operational plan for April 8:

• All city offices will be open for normal hours on April 8.

• Curbside trash and recycling collection will take place on April 8, although on an accelerated schedule. This means customers on Monday’s route should place their items at curbside the evening of April 7 or by 6 a.m. on April 8.

• Street lighting will be operational throughout the city for the duration of the eclipse event.

• Starting at 3 pm on April 8, U.S. Route 23 traffic will be given priority by implementing longer main line green cycles. This means the wait to access US 23 from side streets and roads within the city limits will be longer.

• City traffic control personnel will monitor traffic patterns citywide through the event and can adjust as needed.

• Do not stop your vehicle in the middle of the street to view the eclipse, as this is unsafe and could impede traffic.

• Do not call 911 for traffic jams unless it is a life-safety emergency.

Additional eclipse information

Big Walnut Board of Education member Doug Crowl said at last month’s meeting that he had seen an eclipse in Kentucky, and the commute that normally took a couple hours turned into seven.

Many municipalities are embracing the eclipse with viewing events. For example, Sunbury is “hosting a family-oriented, low-key solar eclipse watching event at Freedom Park,” said City Council meeting minutes from March 6. “Staff are working with local emergency services and other organizations to ensure this event is safe and does not result in extra hardship for those who may be traveling through Sunbury at the time of the eclipse.”

Some may be wondering what the big deal is about. The Berkshire Township Spring Newsletter explains as follows:

“April 8, 2024, a total solar eclipse will cross North America, passing over Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Only 21 total solar eclipses have crossed the lower 48 states in the entire existence of the United States. The last total solar eclipse visible in Ohio was in 1806. The next total solar eclipse in Ohio will be in the year 2099.

“On Monday, April 8, 2024, people in Delaware County will witness a total solar eclipse. A 124-mile-wide swath of Ohio is in the direct line of viewing for this event, and it is expected that the event could double the number of people in the area that day. The start of the partial eclipse for Berkshire Township is just before two at 1:56 p.m. and the total eclipse should begin at 3:12 p.m. The total eclipse will last just under 1:24 minutes.”

“Totality is a moving target!” said a Facebook post from Delaware County Ohio. “When the total solar eclipse happens Monday, April 8, the path of the eclipse through Delaware County will start happening in the southwest corner of the county (think: Ostrander) at about 1:55 p.m. and move diagonally to the northeast (think: Ashley). Totality itself starts at 3:11 p.m. and will last anywhere from one minute and 24 seconds (in Galena) up to 2 minutes and 49 seconds (in Ashley). And then we’ll be back to normal by about 4:27 p.m.”

For those residents who can’t avoid being on the road Monday afternoon, Delaware County Homeland Security & Emergency Management posted this reminder on Facebook: “Don’t be in the dark: Please keep roadway shoulders open for emergency vehicle traffic. These are not designated solar eclipse viewing lanes!”

On its Facebook page, Delaware County added for safety purposes, people planning to drive to a location to view the eclipse should have a plan in place before heading out.

“Plan to park it! Many people will be taking the day off work or school so they can fully experience the total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. However, for those who might be driving somewhere and are planning to just pull over and enjoy totality at 3:11 pm, please plan where you are going to pull over and park!,” the post said. “Pulling off to the side of a road or onto someone’s private property (even just their driveway) is neither safe nor recommended. Your best bet? A public parking lot. Plan now so you can park it later!”

As for communicating with others during the event, the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is warning the public of possible cell service and internet disruptions.

“With many people all in the same place trying to use their cell phones and connect to the internet at the same time, disruptions in both services are likely,” the agency posted on social media. “Plan for alternative communications for you and your family to stay in touch.”

While some are willing to camp out at the county’s two state parks over the weekend in anticipation, once the eclipse is over, most will want to leave — unfortunately, at the same time.

“With the #Eclipse24 quickly approaching, remember to watch out for pedestrians,” said the Ohio Department of Transportation — Columbus District 6, on Facebook. “Over 7 million people live inside the path in Ohio, turn those headlights on and pay attention to the road.”

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Assistant Editor Gary Budzak photographs and reports on stories in eastern Delaware County and surrounding areas.

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