Eclipse clouds could mean more traffic as enthusiasts move to other sites

(KATU File Photo)

It's too early to get a proper weather forecast for the total solar eclipse, but officials in Madras are already planning for even more eclipse watchers to descend on their city.

"We're trying to get them off the highway and on to a safe place to park," said Lysa Vattimo, Madras' solar eclipse coordinator and planner.

Using historical averages, there's less than a 50 percent chance of clear skies the morning of the eclipse at the Oregon coast. In the Willamette Valley, it's closer to 70 percent.

Madras rarely sees clouds in August, which has made it such an attractive destination for the eclipse.

An anticipated 100,000 people are expected to visit the small town, and ODOT says that number may grow if there's a cloudy forecast in Western Oregon, potentially sending thousands of campers east.

ODOT says no matter what, the day of the total solar eclipse will be the busiest day in the history of highways and interstates throughout the state.

"Like the Civil War game times ten," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton.

Madras has carved out space for eclipse watchers seeking to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event under clear skies.

"It's against the law to pull over to the side of the road; we're creating day-tripper parking lots to try and accommodate all those non-planners who come in late," Vattimo said.

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