The Great American Eclipse is nearly here! On Monday, August 21, an eclipse will cross the entire United States, beginning in Oregon. Although we won’t have a total eclipse in Roseburg, the sun will be 96.3% obscured. In central Douglas County the eclipse will begin at 9:03 a.m., peak at 10:16 a.m., and end at 11:37 a.m.

Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the more than 100 Soldiers and Airmen of the Oregon National Guard who will be working around the state to keep Oregonians and visitors safe. They’ll be doing traffic control, wildfire suppression, medical airlifts, search and rescue, and much more.

While they’re protecting us, what can we do to protect ourselves?

Get ready for crowds and traffic. Patience is a virtue, and you’ll probably need a lot of it for the day before, during, and after the eclipse.

Expect traffic on I-5, and lots of it. Imagine the Beavers playing the Ducks and multiply that many times over and all the way up and down I-5. If you do plan to travel to the path of totality – the areas of total eclipse – plan to leave early, stay late, and be patient. The Oregon Department of Transportation is recommending getting to viewing locations no later than 3 a.m. on August 21, and preferably the day before.

All that traffic means a lot of people buying gas. If we really do get a million visitors to our great state, the stations may run dry. Consider topping off your gas tanks the week before, because it could take several days for gas stations to replenish.

Do a little extra grocery shopping. Like cars love gas, people love food, and a million visitors can do a lot of shopping at our grocery stores and convenience stores. Having some extra food in the pantry might be a little inconvenient, but could save you some heartache later.

Get some cash. Visit your ATM the week before, and have a little cash. Like gas and groceries, visitors love draining ATMs.

Expect cell phone coverage to be bad that day, as cell phone towers could be overwhelmed with calls and texts.

Expect emergency response delays. If traffic is as bad as people are predicting, it will take longer for emergency vehicles to get to their destinations. Be patient.

Expect deliveries to be delayed as people clog the roads heading home.

If you are in the path of totality, watch out for eclipse chasers. They’re the ones who want to be in the shadow as long as possible and may not be paying attention to their driving.

With every hotel room in the path of totality reserved, it’s likely that every air conditioner in those rooms will be running. Be prepared for rolling brownouts around the state as the power grid struggles to keep up with demand.

Get ready for more smoke in the air. Keep your fingers crossed that all the visitors to Oregon campgrounds practice fire safety. The combination of so many people, hot dry weather, and every campground full is not a good one. Expect more wildfires to the north.

Get some good eclipse certified glasses for viewing. Look for glasses that have the ISO 12312-2 international standard. When you put them on, you shouldn’t be able to see anything other than the sun. Enjoy the eclipse!

John McDonald is a combat veteran with more than 18 years of military service. He serves in the Oregon National Guard. Contact him at or 541-580-6178.

React to this story:


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.