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  • Ren Gudino

Solar Eclipse in Arkansas: What that Means & How to Prepare

On Monday, April 8, the solar eclipse will plunge 2/3 of Arkansas into total darkness for about four minutes, starting at 12:33pm. The partial eclipse will be visible over the course of several hours. The only times this has happened in Arkansas has been in 1834 and 1918—making this a big year for our small southern state.

The projected visitors coming to our state to witness the path of totality has ranged from 300k to 2million, with Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling residents to expect our population to double on the day of the solar eclipse.

According to the Arkansas Department of Transportation, Arkansans are being told to prepare for congested highways and a lot of traffic, with ARDOT working on clearing highways and filling potholes to improve safety conditions beforehand. They also plan on having gas trucks and crews prepared with water and snacks, just in case of a big back up.

Most of this traffic is going to visit the River Valley area. Cities such as Russellville and surrounding are rumored to receive the brunt of tourism, which is sparking concerns for residents in the area, who hope avoid any major repercussions.

In another attempt to increase safety, 103 school districts will be closed on that day, cutting down on school traffic and allowing parents to keep their kids close for the event. Companies are encouraging their workers to work from home. ARDOT is also suggesting tourists vary their leaving time in order to decrease congestion on our interstates. The Arkansas Trucking Association is being asked to have a “trucking holiday” on the day as well.

The Arkansas Division of Emergency Management is on standby. Public Safety is confident that we are prepared but are also making necessary adjustments such as switching to radio and communication apps to avoid clogging the network. The Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism is looking forward to what may be the largest tourism event in our history.

Even Arkansas’s largest cities are small in comparison to our metropolis neighbors and this weekend will be one of the most important times to pay attention to city traffic signage—this includes residential areas and private areas that may be offering their lots for parking. Please look over your route prior to travel, look up any detours, and familiarize yourself with the areas you’re staying in beforehand—as well as where you may be parking. The main roads to be prepared for are I-30 heading in from Texarkana to Little Rock and I-40 heading up to Conway and Russellville. According to KARK, “ARDOT is encouraging drivers to stock cars with chargers, food, water and medications and make sure plans are made for bathroom breaks.”

Let’s keep Arkansas a safe and fun place to visit and may you have a happy solar eclipse!

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