'Unprecedented' traffic caused by eclipse travel could clog local roads

Updated:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Washington and many other states are bracing for unprecedented traffic problems on the days surrounding the August 21 total eclipse, according to Governor Jay Inslee’s office.

A total eclipse won’t be visible from the West Coast again until 2045, when it will cross northern California.

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This month, Washington will be north of the eclipse’s path of totality, which will span from Oregon to South Carolina. People in Washington will see only the moon partially -- 92 percent covering the sun -- unless they head south.

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Officials say there is no sure way to predict how many Washington drivers will travel to see the total eclipse. What officials do know is that hotels, campgrounds and other types of lodging along the path of totality were booked months, and sometimes years ,  in advance.

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Officials also assume that people who couldn’t secure a place to stay for the eclipse will drive into the path of totality on the morning of Monday, Aug. 21. And once the eclipse is finished, return traffic is expected to be heavy into Tuesday.

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In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has authorized the National Guard to help manage the expected surge of up to 1 million tourists. Gov. Jay Inslee is asking Washington residents driving south to plan ahead and use caution.

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The Washington State Department of Transportation is telling motorists to prepare for significant traffic delays similar to those encountered during a large winter storm. Or imagine Seattle traffic after a Seahawks game, on top of traffic backed up from a road-construction project.