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Last Minute Eclipse Planning

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#1 Joe1950

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 12:17 PM

I live in NJ, near Philadelphia Pa. I hadn't planned on traveling to the eclipse, but my son has expressed interest in going. I've never been to a total eclipse or near one so I don't know what to expect. Here is the plan...

 

We would drive from NJ, on US 95 to the totality area in South Carolina. We do not have any logging reservations so we would be strictly 'mobile.'

 

It's a long drive, roughly 8 hours.

 

Calling on those with experience in traveling to eclipse areas or with the area in south Carolina, I have the following questions, that may be answerable or may not.

 

> A few hours before the eclipse and near the time the start, would there be an expected heavy traffic or traffic jams in the US 95 area?

 

> Assuming we can get in the totally path, would just parking in a suitable area be possible? Do you think the local authorities will take unkindly to this kind of loitering?

 

> Does anyone know, given the time of year and the time of day, the percentage chance of having clear weather in the area.

 

I know this is grasping for straws and crystal ball stuff, but if anyone has any comments concerning the possible obstacles we may face, I would certainly appreciate comments. I'm on the fence about it right now. I just have a feeling it's a less than 50-50 chance of success and would rather plan far in advance of the 2023 event. I don't know.

 

Anyway, thanks in advance for any advice.

 

joe 


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#2 SFGagnon

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 01:39 PM

Start here for climate info:  http://eclipsophile....ericas-eclipse/

 

Start here for traffic guesses: https://www.greatame...com/statistics/



#3 Joe1950

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 02:32 PM

Ah. Thank you SF! I appreciate the info.



#4 Joe1950

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 03:06 PM

Where we would plan to go, Rt 95 at Santee, SC, has a fairly good chance of clear weather due to the cooling effects of the lake and the cooling of the eclipse shadow itself.

 

On the other hand, this is the place of the most visitation along the entire eclipse route, with a possible 97 million people in the areashrug.gif  Traffic before the eclipse could be quite bad. It is recommended to get to the area on Saturday or early Sunday.


Edited by Joe1950, 11 July 2017 - 03:06 PM.

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#5 grnbrg

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 03:13 PM

Traffic before the eclipse could be quite bad. It is recommended to get to the area on Saturday or early Sunday.

 

Or possibly late July.  laugh.gif

 

 

 

grnbrg.


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#6 Joe1950

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 03:37 PM

lol.gif    funnypost.gif

 

 

Exactly!



#7 Don W

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 09:29 PM

Be prepared to sleep in your car. LOL


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#8 paul hart

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 09:41 PM

Be prepared to sleep in your car. LOL

Or a tent.


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#9 Joe1950

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 09:43 PM

I hear ya! I'm sure all the lodging was sold out long ago. And you wonder how the local constabulary will feel about tents and roughing it in the car. shrug.gif


Edited by Joe1950, 12 July 2017 - 09:11 AM.


#10 Scott99

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 01:32 PM

There's tons of lodging available in Myrtle Beach, SC with a short drive south to the eclipse in the AM.  If that's where I end up I'll plan to drive to the observing site at 5-6AM.   It's an afternoon event, I predict most tourists won't get up at the crack of dawn.

 

The traffic is the wild card - this is unprecedented.  It's like a Superbowl is occuring all along the center line in every town.  Hopefully good weather will spread travelers out and keep locals in place.


Edited by Scott99, 12 July 2017 - 01:32 PM.

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#11 Joe1950

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:35 PM

That's interesting Scott. Good idea.

 

According to the eclipse weather site, the two best places to most likely get nice weather are near the lake and close to the shore - within a mile or two or so. 

 

The cool air rising from the lake would tend to clear the sky and the ocean breeze would do the same at the shore to a short distance inland. Also the eclipse shadow cools the air and will dissipate some level of cloudiness.

 

Plus at the shore line you have at least half a good horizon to see the sunrise/sunset effect and see the shadow leave land over the ocean. However you would think an awful lot of people would show up at the beach areas since they are popular to begin with.

 

On the other hand, US 95 runs right through the lake and there will be a lot of visitors flowing into the area that way.

 

So as you say the variable is the traffic. The prudent thing to do is to get lodging for at least Sunday and Monday - 1 night, and get to the MB Sunday. Then head to the area early as you will.

 

This is a wild card situation. With the relatively high population of the area to begin with and the high population areas within driving distance, there can be bouco people show up, and traffic galore. That one area will likely have the most people of any across the path and potentially have the most by quite a lot.

 

Good thing nature gave us a redo in 2024, just in case! lol.gif

 

I'll talk with my son about the options. Thanks Scott.



#12 REC

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:28 PM

Some are predicting that 95 will be a parking lot the closer you get to SC? Most of the past weather reports for SC in August are at least a 60% chance of cloud cover. Let's hope this year we ar in the 40% chance of have clear skies.

 

This will be an event of a lifetime for you and your son to experience! How old is your son?

 

BTW, bring a pair of binoculars!


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#13 Joe1950

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:38 PM

My son is an adult with his own family. I have four sons, all adults and all great guys. Brian, the second oldest is also interested in astronomy. He is a biomedical engineer with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

If we don't decide to go this time, we'll have to make better plans for 2024. Thanks REC!



#14 Jim Haley

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 03:13 PM

You Gotta Go!   While South Carolina is a bit high on cloud cover, check out August Astronomy Magazine to see risk of clouds drop dramatically just off shore.  I believe it was also in that magazine about the water/clear sky link "...if typical August weather patterns hold Charleston could be a very good place to view the eclipse"   Also, locals have confirmed to me that right on the coast (say a barrier island) does indeed dramatically reduce afternoon cumulonimbus clouds.  I am staying inside Charleston but have chartered an ocean going fast fishing boat so we can dodge clouds/rain if necessary.  I hope to view from land but will take a view from a boat vs missing totality.    No big reason you have to stay inside totality and it does reduce flexibility if you have to move (for example, I don't think I will be able to get out of Charleston if needed, again why I went with the boat).  I would find a hotel / campground outside totality (even 60 miles away?) and then drive in early Monday am.  Also, see this article about considering viewing totality from just inside the edge.  Might make traffic less.  https://www.space.co...n-the-edge.html

 

Large bodies of water reduce cloud cover.  http://eclipsophile....-the-carolinas/

 

I did quite a bit of area research on the centerline north of Charleston before I decided to move to the edge.  PM me if you decide to go there.

Where I would not plan on going?  Columbia and Santee.  Too high chance of clouds.  Although if it is open and Charleston clouded out then I may move there. 


Edited by Jim Haley, 13 July 2017 - 03:14 PM.

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#15 Jim Haley

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 03:27 PM

"8 hour drive"?  Heck in Texas we do that before breakfast lol.gif .  Seriously though, I would plan on getting close to the eclipse (again perhaps 50 miles out) before noon on Sunday and into my watching spot by 11am Monday.    Just be sure to get off of I95 before it totally clogs up,  however I don't think it could stay clogged overnight.  Plus you should be heading toward the coast before you get to totality path.  But really, it is all just a guess.  

 

Perhaps bring bicycles if convenient, in case get stalled just outside of totality!  But then, I can be a belts and suspenders kind of guy.lol.gif

 

Pawleys Island on US?17 looks like a good destination just inside totality and on the coast.


Edited by Jim Haley, 13 July 2017 - 03:34 PM.

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#16 Cajundaddy

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 03:48 PM

Go get under the shadow!  We are staying 30 minutes outside the eclipse path and will drive to our chosen spot early Mon. AM.  Lodging should be easy to find an hour or so off the path.

 

There has been a great deal of hoopla and hand-wringing about the millions of folks who will be there in the eclipse path but I have a problem with these predictions.  No such crowds ever showed up for a total eclipse in the history of mankind so I doubt very much this one will be all that different.  Human behavior tends to be pretty consistent over time and the eclipse that crossed central Europe 18 years ago from Paris to Istanbul, with a similar population in close proximity saw no such crowds or traffic jams.  I will plan for the worst but fully expect few to be on the road at 7am near the path of totality.  We will take a picnic and find a nice public park to enjoy the show.


Edited by Cajundaddy, 13 July 2017 - 03:57 PM.

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#17 REC

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 03:52 PM

My son is an adult with his own family. I have four sons, all adults and all great guys. Brian, the second oldest is also interested in astronomy. He is a biomedical engineer with a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

 

If we don't decide to go this time, we'll have to make better plans for 2024. Thanks REC!

Nice family! Hope you can get there. I used to live in Rochester, NY for a long time and now I see the 2024 is going right over it! Plus it's in a better time, April. I'm in NC and it's hot, hot, hot. Hope it not 100* that day!

 

Bob


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#18 Jim Haley

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:27 PM

Go get under the shadow!  We are staying 30 minutes outside the eclipse path and will drive to our chosen spot early Mon. AM.  Lodging should be easy to find an hour or so off the path.

 

There has been a great deal of hoopla and hand-wringing about the millions of folks who will be there in the eclipse path but I have a problem with these predictions.  No such crowds ever showed up for a total eclipse in the history of mankind so I doubt very much this one will be all that different.  Human behavior tends to be pretty consistent over time and the eclipse that crossed central Europe 18 years ago from Paris to Istanbul, with a similar population in close proximity saw no such crowds or traffic jams.  I will plan for the worst but fully expect few to be on the road at 7am near the path of totality.  We will take a picnic and find a nice public park to enjoy the show.

I sure hope you are correct!  However, previous eclipses we did not have social media.  I wonder if that will change things, or not?  Still, I like your approach (stay outside and then drive in early Monday) and believe it will work.  


Edited by Jim Haley, 13 July 2017 - 04:28 PM.


#19 Joe1950

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 04:49 PM

Thanks very much for the great information Jim, Cajundaddy and Bob!

 

I think you have all the bases covered Jim. I did read about the clearer weather over the ocean. The article did say Santee might be good, being close to the lake. But you have to figure being right on I95, it may be swamped with people.

 

All the predictions about crowds are just guesses. It could be a mess or nothing at all. But the idea of setting up close - an hour or so - and then going to a good spot Monday AM makes a lot of sense.

 

It may be more than 8 hours Cajun. Might be 12. I can't recall, but I'll check it out.

 

Thanks very much all. I'll let you know what we decide. It certainly is something on every astronomers bucket list. In fact, I think it comes with the bucket! lol.gif  


Edited by Joe1950, 13 July 2017 - 04:50 PM.

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#20 Cajundaddy

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 08:34 PM

We are driving 14 hours one way from SoCal to western Idaho, but I am an eclipse/astronomy geek so very few will take such a trip.  We will leave Thurs Am, travel 1/2 way and stay in NorCal.  Then travel the last leg on Friday.  We plan a recon mission Sat/Sun to choose our spot based on expected weather, traffic, and wildfires.  Mon, early AM we will head to our chosen site and set up base camp with picnic on board.  Our time slot is for totality at 11:30 am and then we will celebrate the event with lunch and maybe an ice cold "Corona".

 

The social media influence is a useful analogy.  A typical special event is planned and 500 friends and family are invited on FB.  Response is huge with 100 saying they are "going", 300 saying they are "interested", and  50 "not going". Only 50 do not respond.  Event planners guestimate that since these are all loyal friends and family many "interested" will attend so they book a room and order food for 200.  On the day of the event 50 folks actually show up.  I expect a similar turnout for the eclipse.  Social media generates a lot of buzz but most folks will be content to stay home and watch it on TV or the net.  It's summer, it's hot, the bugs are out etc.

 

There will surely be localized traffic and congestion in a few spots like Madras OR, Idaho Falls, or other places that are putting on a spectacle event with live bands, roast pigs, dancing girls, laser tag, but most places along the path?  Not likely.  I could be wrong and will be prepared if we need to go off road into BLM wilderness but... I seriously doubt it.


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#21 Joe1950

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:04 PM

Good plan Cajun! I know what you mean about the hype factor. Of course during the dog days, people may be tired of barbecued burgers and beer and venture off to see what all the excitement is about. But who knows?

 

I'm sure the western states have a better chance of good conditions if you know the area. They say there are even mostly sunny places in Oregon, which many people consider rainy and cloudy. You should be good in Idaho.

 

Our original plan was to fly to my oldest son's home in SLC, Utah. We were going to drive to either Idaho or Montana, depending on the weather outlook. But the airfares put a little damper on the idea. I would doubt finding an open spot to set up will be difficult in that part of the country.

 

Enjoy, Cajun!



#22 BarrySimon615

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:45 PM

"On the other hand, this is the place of the most visitation along the entire eclipse route, with a possible 97 million people in the area. Traffic before the eclipse could be quite bad. It is recommended to get to the area on Saturday or early Sunday."

 

I have seen those numbers.  What the 97 million means is if everybody, and I mean everybody went to the closest place along the path for them, this is where they would be.  So this basically says that if the entire state of Florida, and points above Florida up to the path of totality and everyone along the eastern seaboard including all your neighbors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, all of New England, etc., etc. decided to come, this is where they would go.  Certainly many will travel to see the eclipse.......but not 97 million converging on South Carolina.

 

Barry Simon


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#23 Joe1950

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 10:18 PM

Good point, Barry! That is a very outrageous estimate thinking of it, especially considering the entire population of the country is somewhere just around 320 million? That would be almost a third of everybody! Not.

 

Of course the SC merchants would like that situation. grin.gif

 

Thanks Barry!



#24 Jim Haley

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 06:58 AM

I think you all are on track with much fewer than the "experts" say.  However,  It doesn't take 97 million to totally jam up I95.  Think of what happens along the coast during a hurricane evacuation.  While  I95 is not the problem (it parralles to the coast not inland) during a hurricane it is all the roads to and from the coast.  An additional 1 million or far less can totally tie up the roads for hundreds of miles inland.during a Hurricane.  During the eclipse the additional flow will be both NorthSouth (getting to totality) and EastWest (searching for clear skys along totality). Similarly, when school lets out commuting traffic delays can drop dramatically.   A small amount of travelers one way or the other can force the roads over a tipping point one way or the other.  Will that happen here?  Probably not but really it is anyone's guess.


Edited by Jim Haley, 14 July 2017 - 06:59 AM.

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#25 FXM

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 03:11 PM

My thoughts are bring a tent find a camping place outside of totality as a base of operations. I am sure you can find a campground still available. I have done the car thing but you never really get the rest you need. :-) 


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