A total eclipse of the sun is coming in August, and America’s West Coast is directly in its path. Communities from coastal villages to tiny towns tucked away in mountain canyons are bracing for an influx of visitors in amounts they’ve never experienced before. Concerns exist that many eclipse travelers simply don’t understand how remote some areas of the American West really are and that essentials such as gasoline, groceries, and water may be in short supply. Estimates predict that the Central Oregon Coast may receive as many as 250,000 visitors — in an area with a population of less than 30,000 residents, this stands to have a serious impact on coastal communities. There is one highway that spans the length of the Oregon coast with several small feeder roads that reach Interstate 5 on the other side of the Coast Range. Neither Highway 101 nor the roads going over the Coast Range are equipped to handle the huge amount of traffic.
Because the last total eclipse of the sun last occurred in North America in 1972, the opportunity to view one is considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Local homeowners are making money renting out room and even camping spots. Community and business leaders all over the West Coast have been having strategy meetings for months to prepare for the onslaught of visitors, but many still feel as if they are unprepared due to the sheer numbers of people who will be descending on them.
Eclipse enthusiasts won’t have to wait another 45 years for the chance to see an eclipse on North American soil. There’s another one on the way in 2023 giving West Coast communities and businesses six years to brace for the next giant influx of eclipse chasers.