COLUMBIA, S.C. — From the roads to the lakes, South Carolina officials unveiled their plan Thursday to protect everyone in the state during the Great American Eclipse.
Just like when emergency officials warn drivers to stay off the roads if they don’t need to be on them during a winter storm, the same message was relayed to the public Thursday morning about the eclipse.
The celestial event is going to be huge for the Palmetto State because South Carolina is one of 14 states that are in the path of totality.
The moon will pass between the earth and the sun on Aug. 21, and those in a small, 70-mile wide band will see a dark sky with stars. The eclipse should be visible in South Carolina just after 2:40 p.m.
The last time the United States was in the path of a total eclipse was 1979, but this is the first time in more than 100 years that it will cross the whole country.
Officials told Channel 9 they expect a ton of traffic, upwards of a million out-of-state visitors.
The Highway Patrol will put 160 extra troopers out on the roads, the Department of Transportation will end all construction lane closures to eliminate delays.
Schools are letting out early mostly due to liability. School officials can't provide eye protection to all students, or ensure they all will use it properly.
State emergency officials are most concerned about people enjoying the spectacle and not paying attention.
"It’s going to be something that's unusual, and as much as people may say, ‘Oh, I’m prepared for that,’ they may look up and the car in front of them stops,” said Adjutant General Robert Livingston.
All interstate electronic signs will flash messages and safety information about the eclipse.
One of those messages will be alerting drivers not to pull off on the shoulder or block the road to see the event from their vehicles.
"Don't stop in the road,” Tom Johnson, with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, said. “Don't stop on shoulders. Don't stop in emergency lanes. Not only is that illegal, but extremely dangerous.”
When looking at the eclipse, you'll need to wear special glasses that can be bought in stores or ordered online. Regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, won't cut it.
A big concern is making sure anyone trying to watch the eclipse doesn’t go blind. Some people are selling fake glasses to wear during the event.
The actual glasses are designed to protect people’s eyes so they can look at the eclipse, but the rip-offs could leave eyes damaged or sightless.
NASA says consumers should always look for the ISO icon on the glasses so they know they're safe to use.
The whole country will see at least a partial eclipse.
You have to be in that band of totality to see the real show.
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