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Texas County Declares State of Emergency Ahead of Solar Eclipse

A small Texas county has declared a state of emergency as its population of 400,000 is set to double, and even triple, ahead of the total solar eclipse in April.

Bell County officials in central Texas are gearing up for challenges like traffic congestion, fuel shortages, and strains on first responders, hospitals, and food supplies, as thousands of tourists are expected to flood the town.

County Judge David Blackburn said the emergency declaration will help the county plan for the eclipse and protect both residents and visitors, as reported by the Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, some eclipse enthusiasts are opting to board flights from Austin to Detroit, Michigan, to witness the spectacle for a few minutes from the skies as tickets for Delta 1218, priced at $1,129, were sold out within hours last week.

The total solar eclipse – when the moon completely blocks the face of the sun – will be visible for an estimated 32 million people along a narrow strip of North and Central America on April 8.

The solar eclipse will be visible along a ‘path of totality’, starting in Mexico and moving through Texas where it will travel up to New England and finish in Canada.

With thousands of visitors flocking to Texas towns to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon, authorities anticipate strains on food, grocery, and fuel supplies, along with local infrastructure.

‘In order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of both residents and visitors, Bell County has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken in the form of a local disaster declaration,’ the county said in a release.

Property owners hosting parties with more than 50 people are required to register with the Bell County Emergency Management Office.

Officials also advised residents to stay home, avoid driving, fuel up vehicles ahead, and purchase groceries days before the eclipse.

The Texas Department of Transportation spokesman, Tony Hartzel, said the traffic could be comparable to the aftermath of several large football games all ending at once.

As resources dwindle in the small towns, the skies become an unexpected destination for some eclipse enthusiasts who are willing to spend more than $1,000 on a flight seat just to witness the spectacle for a few minutes.

Delta flight 1218, from Austin to Detroit, will be operated on an A220-300 that offers ‘especially premium viewing due to the aircraft’s extra-large windows,’ a release from Delta Airlines read.

The ‘Path-of-Totality’ flight is offered ‘specifically for umbraphiles to be able to spend as much time as possible directly within the path of totality,’

The price for the three-hour trip soared to more than $1,000 last week, whereas other Delta flights operating between the two cities typically cost between $200 and $300.

Despite the shocking price, tickets were sold out within 24 hours, and travelers are trying to secure seats on other routes that have a chance to catch the solar event.

‘The April 8 eclipse is the last total eclipse we’ll see over North America until 2044,’ said Warren Weston, Delta Air Lines Lead Meteorologist.

‘This eclipse will last more than twice as long as the one that occurred in 2017, and the path is nearly twice as wide.’

Southwest Airlines also announced flights that will have the best eclipse-viewing opportunities, including flights from Dallas to Pittsburgh, departing at 12.45 pm local time and one from Austin to Indianapolis departing at 12.50 pm.

Michelle Newcomb, a 54-year-old retired teacher who will board one of the flights, told WSJ: ‘I’d love to be able to say I experienced a total eclipse from an airplane. I want that in my obit.’

Whether from the ground or the skies, the total eclipse should be visible for about four minutes as long as the views are along the path of totality.

Dr Greg Brown, astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, told MailOnline: ‘For observers in North America, this is your best chance to see a total solar eclipse this decade.’

‘Nothing quite compares to the day-turned-night that comes from a total eclipse.’

‘North America won’t lie in the path of totality of a solar eclipse again until 2033 when an eclipse will graze Alaska. The rest of the US and Canada will have to wait for 2044 and 2045 when there will be another pair of solar eclipses to enjoy.’

According to Dr Brown, a total solar eclipse happens when the moon and the sun line up ‘perfectly’.

He said: ‘It’s only when it perfectly lines up, so that the center of the sun and the center of the moon pass in front of one another – that’s when you get a total solar eclipse.’

Like any eclipse, it’s important not to look directly at the sun with the naked eye while the event is happening – not even through sunglasses, binoculars or a telescope.

A simple pinhole projector, solar eclipse viewing glasses, which can be purchased online, or special solar filters are much safer.

READ 17 COMMENTS
  • Auntie Vyris® says:

    I think too many Americans have lost touch with what’s truly important in life.

  • Jonb says:

    You can also just use your phone to see it. No need to have point and shoot worries that you may not get it aligned or foxused.. just use the selfie button and look away from the Ole glorious hole.. you can even take a
    Selfie with the eclipse.. although I also remember using the cereal box and shadow trick in 4th grade:) I thought I was going to win a lifetime achievement award for showing these Gen z ers how to build said box until the little geniuses laughed me out of the gym parking lot when I showed it to them.. they’re the ones who taught me about using the phone camera.. spoiled little brats..

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