Eclipse impacts already felt in Banks area

Banks – On August 21, for a few moments close to 10:15 a.m., Banks area residents will see 99% of the sun obscured as the moon passes between the Earth and the sun.

Shaping up to be a defining moment of 2017, public agencies, businesses, and individuals have been gearing up for the event for months, which is expected to bring up to one million visitors flocking to Oregon to catch the eclipse, which will reach totality just 28 miles from Banks, starting in the morning on the Oregon coast.

Banks has already felt the effects of the eclipse, with a sudden cancellation of the popular Banks BBQ Parade after the Oregon Department of Transportation denied the Sunset Park Association a permit for the parade due to anticipated statewide eclipse traffic on state highways. The cancellation didn’t last long, however – a near-immediate community mobilization saw the parade back on, with a new route that doesn’t impact the ODOT-controlled controlled Main Street/Highway 47.

Meanwhile, the next big impact is about to start – traffic. The Wilson River Highway -also known as Highway 6- is a prime route to Tillamook County, which lies partially in the path of totality – and ODOT is warning locals that the eclipse weekend could become Oregon’s biggest traffic event, ever.

Remember the December 2016 snow storm that resulted in motorists trapped in gridlocked roads across the Portland Metro area for hours?

Worse than that, according to ODOT.

Already, areas in central Oregon are grappling with major traffic as attendees to an eclipse-themed music festival near Prineville cause gridlock in areas that don’t usually see much traffic.

[Check real-time updates to local traffic on]

Another danger that has local officials preparing is the potential of human-caused fires as visitors unfamiliar with Oregon’s high fire danger fill the state.

“[Oregon Department of Forestry’s]┬ámain objective is to ensure public and employee safety while carrying out the agency mission of preventing wildfires and protecting resources” ODF stated on their website.

[Check weather on the homepage of the Banks Post]

Back in Banks, gas stations are starting to see an uptick in customers. “It feels like a holiday weekend,” says Richard Kadell at the Banks Chevron station, “and it’s only Thursday.” The Gales Creek Shell station also reported a large increase in customers on Highway 6.

As reported by Stephanie Haugen with the Forest Grove News-Times, Pacific University optometry specialists are warning the public that viewing the eclipse without proper safety gear could result in permanent eye damage. However, local stores are all out of ISO-approved eclipse glasses as of Thursday at 1 p.m. when the Banks Post called Jim’s Thriftway, the Forest Grove Bi-Mart, the Cornelius Fred Meyer, and the Cornelius Wal-Mart.

If you’re not planning on viewing this once-in-a-lifetime event, be warned: the next total solar eclipse in Oregon won’t be until October 5, 2108.

Sources and more information:

Forest Grove News-Times eye safety article
Don Hamilton, ODOT Spokesperson
Local stores and gas stations
ODF Website

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