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Oregon governor, agencies give eclipse preparation update

Year of coordination, planning about to be tested

SALEM, Ore. - Governor Kate Brown was joined Tuesday by state and federal agencies and local organizations involved in planning for next Monday's total solar eclipse to update their status and coordination efforts.

For the past year, Oregon’s statewide governmental, preparedness, and travel organizations have been working together to ensure Oregon is ready to accommodate an unprecedented number of Oregonians and visitors who are expected view the 2017 solar eclipse.

“The chance to witness a total solar eclipse is a rare and special opportunity, and Oregon is thrilled to host hundreds of thousands of curious sky-gazers who will gather across the state,” Brown said. “It’s important for each of us to plan ahead, arrive at viewing sites early and stocked with basic supplies, and be mindful of current wildfire conditions.

"Oregonians and visitors should also know that state agencies, along with our local, tribal, and federal partners, have extensively planned and are well-coordinated to help make the 2017 total solar eclipse a safe and memorable event.”

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management has led the state’s coordination efforts, and Governor Brown activated the Oregon National Guard to deploy additional resources, personnel, and equipment. Some 150 Oregon Air and Army National Guard members and five Army National Guard aircraft will be deployed across the state the weekend prior to and on the day of the solar eclipse. The Oregon Guard will assist local cities and counties, which will include supporting traffic management and first responders with MEDEVAC and search and rescue capabilities, but is not scheduled to conduct any law enforcement activities.  

Governor Brown issued Executive Order 17-13 to formalize statewide planning and collaboration efforts, and designated OEM as the primary coordinating agency for all essential protective measures by state agencies. The State’s Emergency Operations Plan and Emergency Coordination Center will be activated by OEM, which will be ready and able to deploy the personnel and equipment of all state agencies needed to alleviate or respond to requests for assistance or emergency situations.

Local emergency management and public health officials have also been planning for this week’s expected influx of visitors arriving to experience the eclipse. The Oregon Health Authority, in partnership with AMR, is bringing additional ambulance teams within the path of totality, specifically to rural areas where there are limited or volunteer emergency medical services on hand and long travel times to hospitals. 

Additionally, Governor Brown directed OEM to work with state agencies in the final days leading up to the eclipse to determine what, if any, gaps in services exist at the state or local level and how to mitigate those gaps, which may require a temporary suspension of rules.

The governor issued Executive Order 17-14 to allow agencies to suspend rules if needed, and to enable agencies to request assistance from other jurisdictions to support life and safety missions that may be undertaken during the eclipse.

Oregon also offers the best weather prospects along the entire eclipse path. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), Oregon can expect seasonal temperatures (80s) across the state on Eclipse Day, so excessive heat is not expected to be a concern.

"While no thunderstorms are currently expected, we will be in a weather pattern that will occasionally bring clouds to the state," said NWS Meteorologist, Tyree Wilde. "At this time, it looks like west of the Cascades has a greater likelihood of having some clouds, with central and eastern Oregon being more favorable. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty with regard to cloud cover, so forecasters will continue to closely monitor conditions over the next few days."

While most state parks are already under a fire restriction due to hot dry conditions, all Oregon State Parks will be under an open flame/fire restriction effective Wednesday. This temporary ban to all state parks is intended to avoid new problems for fire crews already responding to several large fires, and to prevent problems associated accidental fires in the run up to Monday's eclipse.

Charcoal briquettes, tiki-style torches, candles and campfires — including those on the beach — are all prohibited. Only fuel sources that can be turned off instantly, such as propane stoves and propane fire pits, will be allowed. Notifications of additional fire restrictions may be found here

Although exact numbers (and even solid estimates) are very difficult to obtain, emergency managers are planning for an influx of about 1 million visitors into Oregon for several days on either side of the eclipse. The total solar eclipse will be visible starting on the coast between Lincoln City and Newport, before moving over Salem and eventually over the best potential viewing areas of Warm Springs, Madras, Mitchell, Prairie City and Huntington in Eastern Oregon.

The eclipse will appear at 10:15 a.m. PDT on the Oregon Coast and depart the state by 10:27 a.m. The effect of the eclipse will last under two minutes on the coast and stretch to just over two minutes in the eastern part of the state.

To help make this historic event safe, fun, and memorable for all Oregonians and visitors, officials encourage individuals to do their part to plan ahead, be prepared, follow these specific recommendations:

  • Prepare for Traffic: Many small communities have only one road leading in and out. These will inevitably get backed up, making traffic a real problem. To reduce congestion, plan to arrive at least one full day, and ideally several days, in advance of the event. 
  • Leave No Trace: When traveling around Oregon, it’s important to practice “Leave No Trace” ethics, which includes leaving sites as you found them, disposing of waste responsibly, respecting wildlife and being considerate of other visitors.
  • Don’t Trespass: Many public buildings and private properties are not able to accommodate visitors. Make sure you are not trespassing.
  • Wildfire Prevention: August is peak wildfire season in Oregon, so please be vigilant about extinguishing and disposing cigarettes. Know fire risks and respect fire restrictions, including campfire bans. Avoid parking or driving on dry grass, as your vehicle can spark a wildfire. In many areas drivers are required to carry a shovel and fire extinguisher or gallon of water in their cars.
  • Avoid Excessive Waste: Consider packing large water containers and refilling them with tap water. Oregon’s water is some of the best in the world, so there’s no need to buy bottled water.
  • Call 211: Oregon's 211info will be the state's Non-Emergency Eclipse Hotline. From Aug. 16 to Aug. 23. between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., dial 2-1-1 or text ECLIPSE to 898211.

For more information about the 2017 total solar eclipse and recommendations on how to have a safe, fun and memorable viewing experience, visit the Oregon Office of Emergency Management's Total Solar Eclipse Guide

Additionally, Travel Oregon has provided 50,000 “2017 Total Solar Eclipse” travel guides to Oregon’s Welcome Centers throughout the state. The guide is also available for visitors and lodging operators online at traveloregon.com.   


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