Missouri preps for total solar eclipse

Friday, August 18, 2017

Missouri’s 126th Dist.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO — Hundreds of thousands of tourists will make their way to Missouri next week to participate in what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many of them. It is on Aug. 21 that the moon will obstruct the light of the sun to create a total solar eclipse.

The Missouri Division of Tourism estimates the state could have as many as 1.3 million visitors for the day because Missouri is one of ten states in the direct line of the eclipse.

The last total solar eclipse that was visible in the continental United States took place in 1979, and the last total eclipse that was visible in Missouri occurred in 1869. The center of the 2017 eclipse will travel directly from St. Joseph to Perryville, and the moon will cast a 70-mile-wide shadow over many cities and counties in Missouri. The eclipse will happen at 11:40 a.m. on Aug. 21 on the western border of Missouri and at 11:51 a.m. on the eastern border of the state. During the eclipse, day turns to night, stars can be seen in the sky, insects chirp, the temperature cools, the sun produces a halo effect around the black orb of the moon, and the sky on the horizon in every direction is the color of a sunset.

Anyone interested in viewing the eclipse should keep in mind that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun as they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight.

Because of the huge influx of visitors, the Missouri Department of Transportation is expecting heavy traffic congestion in cities and areas along the path of the eclipse. Individuals who plan to travel on Aug. 21 should be aware of the following safe driving tips recommended by the state transportation department:

• Don’t stop along interstates or roads and don’t park on the shoulder.

• Exit the road and find a safe place to stop and watch or photograph the eclipse.

• Pay attention. Distracted driving is very dangerous, particularly during this time of increased traffic on the roadways.

• Never take photographs while driving.

• See and be seen. Turn your headlights on and do not rely on your vehicle’s auto headlight setting.

• Watch out for extra pedestrians and cyclists along smaller roads before, during and after the event.

People may park randomly and walk along roads, particularly in the hour before the eclipse to get the best viewing.

• Prepare for congestion especially on the interstates in the path of totality the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.

• Don’t wear “eclipse glasses” while you’re driving.

• Avoid travel during the eclipse or in the area of the main path if you can.

• In the event of a non-injury traffic crash, move your vehicles off the roadway to a safe location.

• Check traffic conditions statewide on the Missouri Department of Transportation’s online Traveler Information Map. It’s also available as a free app: for iPhones and Androids

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative. Please contact me at patricia.pike@house.mo.gov or 573-751-5388 with any questions or concerns regarding state issues.