LIMA — Where will you be on the afternoon of Monday, April 8, 2024? If you’re in Lima or anywhere near here, the answer would be probably in total darkness. That’s because that’s when a total solar eclipse will happen and Lima has a front-row seat for the celestial magic.
“The path of the shadow of totality for the total solar eclipse covers the width from just east of Fort Wayne, Indiana, to the northwest part of Columbus, Ohio,” said David Humphreys in a news release. He is past president of the Lima Astronomical Society and current president of the Hardin County Astronomy Club. “The eastern edge of the shadow goes just north of Cincinnati to Canton and north of Youngstown with an exit north of Masury. The western edge of the shadow enters Ohio near Antwerp and exits Ohio between Sylvania and Toledo.”
Ohio is one of 13 states along the path of totality, crossing over or coming close to more major cities than the eclipse in 2017.
If we’ve learned anything from the lessons of the August 2017 total solar eclipse, we’ll need to start planning ahead soon for the event.
“From my perspective, there isn’t a lot of government entities that won’t be affected, if we get overrun like Kentucky did. Almost everybody could be affected because there were instances where the ambulances and fire trucks could not get down the roads, because the roads were so clogged with people,” Humphreys said.
It is expected that the traffic problems alone will be a nightmare.
“Reports from Kentucky from 2017 included roads that were clogged with spectators’ vehicles where emergency vehicles couldn’t travel through. Exiting afterward, people spent six to eight hours in a distance normally traveled in an hour. I can imagine in 2024 that there might be a massive shortage of food, water, hotel rooms, restroom facilities, camping spots, fuel and possibly many other items that people traveling that week will need,” Humphreys stated.
“There have been reports from areas affected by the August 2017 eclipse that it was difficult to support as many people as arrived to view the eclipse. If people come to the area for the 2024 eclipse in anything like the numbers from the 2017 eclipse, then it will drive the western half and northern half of Ohio into emergency conditions,” Humphreys said.
The duration of totality for the eclipse is almost two minutes longer than in 2017.
Humphreys believes the upcoming solar eclipse will be a good learning experience.
“There are opportunities for emergency management and transportation to figure out how to handle emergencies in large throngs of people and vehicles. There are opportunities for groups and businesses to plan how to support throngs of people that will come and go in a few days’ time.
“There are opportunities for astronomers and scientists to plan activities for the education and enjoyment of the public before and during the eclipse. There are even more opportunities for planning in the long-range for (the) upkeep of roads and other infrastructure to handle large influx and egress of vehicles and people from the large area affected,” Humphreys said.
For more information on the eclipse, you can go to NationalEclipse.com, a website launched in 2015 as a one-stop source of accurate information and resources on the 2017 and 2024 solar eclipses.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.