Total solar eclipse could mean total traffic nightmare in NY as Hochul warns motorists to pack water, snacks

If you’re taking a road trip for a better view of the eclipse, you’ll want to pack plenty of patience along with your safety glasses and granola bars.

Millions of Americans are hitting the road for Monday’s total solar eclipse, which is expected to cause a total traffic nightmare on at least 30 interstate highways in the path of the totality, where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon’s shadow for up to four minutes.

The expected impact on roadways from Western New York to Central Texas is already being compared to “20 or 30 Super Bowls happening all at once” by Richard Feinberg of the American Astronomical Society’s Eclipse Task Force.

As many as 1 million out-of-state visitors are expected to flock to New York for Monday’s solar eclipse. Robert Miller

At a special pre-eclipse press conference at Niagara Falls Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul warned that unusually heavy traffic was set to hit the Empire State in the coming days.

“We are literally over the moon to welcome over 1 million people to our state for this once in a generation moment,” Hochul said, speaking via Zoom from Albany amid protracted state budget talks.

Hochul said with so many gawkers expected, the state is treating the rare celestial happening “as if it’s one of the big storms” when it comes to traffic safety.

“The roads can only handle so much. And we’re expecting a high volume of traffic before and after the event.”

She also urged drivers not to pull their cars off to the side of the road during the eclipse.

At a press conference Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul warned roads in the west of the state will be jammed with eclipse-viewers both before and after the rare celestial happening, the last expected to be visible in the region until 2044. Helayne Seidman

“Please do not do that. If we need emergency vehicles to get through, our first responders, we’ll use that as the best place for them to get to possibly you and your family quickly,” she said.

“And make sure you have a full tank of gas.”

The New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is also stepping up its efforts to ensure public safety during the eclipse, strategically deploying resources on land, sea and air.

Commissioner Jackie Bray told reporters the division has been preparing for the eclipse since 2022. She warned drivers who park where they’re not supposed to, “we will be ticketing and towing rapidly tomorrow morning, particularly up in the North Country.”

Bray advised all motorists to be careful, and to remember that it’s “mud season” when planning their routes. Anyone in need of help should call 511 or download the 511NY app, Bray said.

The Canadian side of Niagara Falls already declared a state of emergency last week ahead of the solar eclipse, as it estimates up to 1 million visitors will descend on the iconic falls, as it has been deemed one of the best places to view it.

Parts of Western New York are located in a zone known as the totality, where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon for around three full minutes. REUTERS

The rare celestial phenomena, which sees the moon pass between the Earth and sun, will start around 12:30 p.m. CST in Dallas before ending around 4:40 p.m. in Caribou, Maine.

As for the cities in the path of totality, a total blackout will begin anywhere between 1:40 p.m. CST in Dallas to 3:13 pm EST in Cleveland, to 3:32 p.m. EST in Caribou, according to NASA.

New York’s official ILoveNY website is providing detailed information about peak viewing times and the best places to see the eclipse, as well as a map showing its path across the state.

The next solar eclipse in the region isn’t expected to take place until 2044.

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