WATCH | "We know that 14 states are going to be in the direct path of the total eclipse ... It represents about 200,000,000 people that are within one-day’s drive of getting to within the direct path."
The upcoming August 21 solar eclipse - the first of its kind to span the contiguous U.S. in almost 100 years - promises to be historic. But two months out, NASA and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are warning that the event could also cause some of the worst interstate traffic America has seen.
At an eclipse public safety meeting NASA held Wednesday with scientists and national parks and highway representatives, tips for helping keep star-watchers from getting stuck in gridlock was a hot topic.
The eclipse will be visible in 14 states, and FHWA estimates that over 200,000,000 will be within a day's drive from traveling into the phenomenon's path.
"That is a lot of people with potential to be out on the roads," Martin Knopp , an associate administrator at the Department of Transportation, explained during Wednesday's meeting.
Knopp said the states in the eclipse's path are preparing their highways for the heavy traffic. They will even pause summer road construction.
Without any real way of knowing how bad the traffic will be in those 14 states on August 21, Knopp went advised that eclipse-goers try not to travel on the day of the event.
"It’s not a time to just show up and on the spur of the moment ... pull over and watch it from the side of the road," he said.
A large influx of cars on highways (and the sides of highways) during the eclipse can cause woeful road congestion and safety concerns.
Another way to avoid gridlock: Consider avoiding Nashville. The Music City is the largest metropolitan area in the path of the eclipse, making it Knopp's best guess as to where the most viewers will gather.
Of course, the only sure-fire way for viewers to avoid all the traffic and travel logistics associated with this unusual celestial event is to watch NASA's livestream of it from home. You will find that at nasa.gov/eclipselive.