Ready or not, the Great American Eclipse is coming Monday, Aug. 21. Idaho will be one of the top viewing spots in the country, and huge crowds are expected throughout the state. It will be the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire United States since 1918; in certain parts of the state, the moon will completely cover the sun.
Idaho is one of 14 states along the path of totality; it will literally be a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity right in your backyard. In Boise, the eclipse will happen at 11:30 a.m., and we’ll be at 99.5 percent totality.
Want to learn more about eclipse times in Idaho? Check out this tool. And this story has an interactive tool: Put your ZIP code in to see the eclipse timing in your area. There’s lots more information at the NASA site as well.
Here are some tips to having an enjoyable eclipse experience:
Traffic throughout the state is going to be bad. Like, really bad. Anywhere from 300,000 to 500,000 visitors are expected in Idaho, which means your commute could longer than normal Friday through Monday. Interstates 84 and 15 as well as Idaho highways 75, 21, 55 and 20 will be in the crosshairs. Allow yourself twice as much time for traveling than you normally would.
Traffic on Thursday was already heating up in Oregon. In Idaho, travelers can stay up-to-date on the road ahead several different ways, including the state’s traveler information Web site: 511.idaho.gov, or by calling 511. That’s where you’ll find updated information on road conditions, delays and detours. The Idaho Department of Transportation’s tech tools even include an app that will give you estimates of how long it will take to drive a specific stretch of I-15 in eastern Idaho during the eclipse hoopla.
The transportation department aims to help keep travelers on their way by publicizing traffic counts at 24 different locations around the state, starting Friday. Find that online at itd.idaho.gov/eclipse.
Don’t plan on making a day trip out of it Monday. Idaho State Police spokesman Tim Marsano put it best: “Don’t anticipate being able to just come up for the day and get a prime viewing spot in the path of totality and expect to be home for dinner.”
There are rumors circulating the internet giving people cause for thought in regards to the potential traffic situation. The Idaho Transportation Department is trying to put some of those myths to rest. For instance, the interstates will NOT be turned into “one-way streets” but it’s partially true that some construction will be postponed. Read about more of the myths here.
Idaho communities have been preparing for the onslaught of visitors. Emergency service agencies across the state are planning to stage aeromedical units, ambulances, and other motorized vehicles, such as ATVs and electric carts, in critical areas that are medically underserved. This will allow EMS to reach people in congested areas more quickly. Read more about the preparations here.
Be properly equipped
Proper safety glasses are a must. While countless vendors are making pairs that look safe enough, be sure to buy glasses with a International Standards Organization rating of ISO 12312-2:2015. Staring directly at the eclipse can be harmful to the eyes; make sure to be ready.
Seven Fletcher Petroleum stores recently pulled hundreds of solar eclipse glasses from shelves after Amazon warned customers that they might be inadequate. Five stores were in Idaho and two were in Baker City, Oregon.
The American Astronomical Society offers tips on its website to eclipse viewers on how to tell whether the glasses they purchased are certified to protect their eyes.
While your eyes might not be ready, your phone probably is. USA Today reported that the best camera for taking eclipse pictures might be your smartphone because of its wide angle lense. Fancier cameras might require additional filters; an iPhone or Android likely will not. Here are tips on taking the best pictures and how to do your best smartphone photography.
For those with animals, make sure to keep an eye on them during the eclipse. They may act differently.
If you’ve been outside recently, you probably noticed the recent low air quality in the Treasure Valley. This is happening because of wildfires. But the forecast is looking pretty good for viewers in the Treasure Valley.
Of course, it might not matter anyway, as the maps of projected areas to view the path of totality are apparently incorrect.
There are already souvenirs aplenty. Everything from T-shirts to magnets to calendars are available all over the state. A new shot glass might look nice in the kitchen.
If you’re of age and in the mood for an adult beverage, there are plenty of limited-edition releases from local brewers and wine makers. Holesinsky’s Blackout Red Wine, Sawtooth Brewery’s Total Eclipse of the Hop and a Payette Brewing Co.-Mother Earth Brew Co. collaboration called LUNARtic are a few of the options on the table.
If you haven’t made plans for eclipse day, there is still time. Though the Treasure Valley won’t have the best views in the state (Weiser and Idaho Falls are among the top spots), there are plenty of festivities in the area that will make it worthwhile.
Go check out the fantastically named Total Eclipse of the Fair at the Western Idaho Fairgrounds in Boise. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. Aug. 21. There will be live entertainment and a raffle to win a seat on the Ferris wheel to watch the eclipse. Bogus Basin is having fun as well, as the 99.6% Eclipsed event is sure to have activities for everyone. The mountain will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 21. The lodge, chairlift and summer activities center will be open.
The Idaho Museum of Mining and Geology in Boise will hold a Solar Eclipse Special on Aug. 19-20. Caldwell’s Hells Canyon Winery-Zhoo Zhoo is holding a Total Eclipse Wine Party from noon to 6 p.m. Aug. 20. And, if you’re willing to drive, Weiser is holding an eclipse festival from Aug. 17-21.