By Kailey Fisicaro
Total eclipse primer
Partial eclipse starts at 9:06 a.m.
Total eclipse starts around 10:19 a.m.
Monday’s total eclipse of the sun is such a celestial rarity for us Americans that it is expected to attract more than 200,000 people to Central Oregon — especially Madras, where the view is said to be the best.
It’s the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in 99 years . From Oregon to South Carolina, 14 states will — over a span of almost two hours — experience more than two minutes of darkness in the middle of the day.
The moon will completely blot out the sun along a 70-mile wide west-to-east corridor known as the path of totality — where day briefly becomes night — that stretches from Oregon to the heartland and all the way to Charleston, South Carolina.
The best views will be along an even thinner path, the centerline, where the eclipse can be seen the longest. Here, the total eclipse will last for more than two minutes.
In Oregon, the centerline runs from Depoe Bay in the west to Madras in the center and John Day in the east. Cities that will experience shorter but total eclipse viewing include Corvallis, Salem, Redmond and Baker City.
The moon, which will cast a shadow on the planet as it passes between Earth and the sun, will begin to cover the sun as it passes over Madras at 9:06 a.m. From 10:19 a.m. to 10:21 a.m., Madras will be completely dark. The sun will be completely revealed and the eclipse finished in Madras by 11:40 a.m.
— Bulletin staff report
Clouds and crowds. Predictions on those two things have been front and center in Central Oregon for months (and even years) leading up to Monday’s solar eclipse.
As of Sunday, meteorologists and government officials could perhaps have allowed themselves a high five or two. Both groups’ predictions — for weather specialists, visibility and for officials, how to prepare for thousands of extra people — were holding mostly true.
Clouds shouldn’t block your view of the eclipse Monday if you’re in Central Oregon. Smoke, though, is a little different story.
Central Oregon will likely see less smoke from the 8,000-acre Milli Fire burning outside Sisters on Monday than it did on Sunday, according to Greg Svelund, a Bend-based spokesman for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
North and northeast winds are expected to move the smoke southwest of Bend, to around the area of Deschutes River Woods, but even if smoke remains in Bend, as it surely will in Sisters, the effect will be a haze rather than total coverage.
Smoke from the Milli Fire isn’t reaching Madras, considered Oregon’s epicenter for all things eclipse.
The difficulty of predicting exactly how many people would descend on Bend and Central Oregon for the solar eclipse Monday proved true over the weekend when tourist turnouts varied widely from city to city. But plans officials made based on general expectations kept traffic moving mostly smoothly and safely.
Heading into the weekend before Monday’s eclipse, some Central Oregonians — in Bend especially — were scratching their heads at the lack of traffic and turmoil present in the High Desert.
In person and online, Bend residents remarked on the general quietness around town. In most areas though, eclipse-seekers showed up like clockwork, packing the highways into cities in the path of totality, such as Madras and Prineville.
Because a large portion of visitors to the Prineville area — estimates are between 35,000 and 80,000 — are attendees of the Symbiosis Oregon Eclipse festival at Big Summit Prairie that began Thursday, traffic backups on U.S. Highway 26 started Wednesday. At one point the line of cars backed up as far as 14 miles.
Except for less travel than expected from the Willamette Valley, overall, traffic into Madras over the weekend was essentially what officials anticipated: Busy. By Sunday afternoon, traffic was bumper-to-bumper on stretches of U.S. Highway 26 and U.S. Highway 97, according to Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Highway 26 between Warm Springs and Madras had a volume of traffic more than 50 percent above average on Saturday, Murphy said. Whereas the travel time between Redmond and the Madras airport, where nearby Solartown is set up for the eclipse, generally takes about 34 minutes, it was about 50 minutes on Sunday afternoon, Murphy said.
There was one multivehicle injury crash on state Highway 361 near Culver, between Highway 97 and Highway 26, Murphy said, but no major incidents on either of the larger U.S. highways.
Murphy and other officials are still ready and waiting for the masses of traffic expected after the eclipse, too. Murphy referred to that movement as an “exodus.” And some locals wonder whether that exodus will cut through Bend.
Because Bend is booming with visitors most summer days, ahead of the eclipse, some expected last weekend to be especially crowded.
But a run to the grocery store or drive around town showed Bend was anything but bustling. By contrast, it appeared, many Bendites were staying in, letting their fully gassed-up vehicles sit at rest in the driveway.
At Parrilla Grill’s west Bend location on 14th Street, Lee Maguire, a manager there, said the restaurant, a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, wasn’t getting the crowds staff thought it would.
“We have not been as busy as expected,” Maguire said Sunday afternoon, adding she assumed locals must have hunkered down at home to avoid crowds that, over the weekend, hadn’t materialized in Bend.
Maguire said they still hoped things would get busy in the next couple of days.
At Drake, a restaurant in downtown Bend, lunchtime was quiet on Thursday and Friday, according to Lauren Schindel, general manager. Saturday started to pick up and become busy, though, and by Sunday afternoon, the restaurant was “slammed” Schindel said.
She, too, noticed locals might have been staying in to avoid predicted crowds, because she believed most of her customers over the weekend were tourists.
— Reporter: 541-383-0325, email@example.com