SHERIDAN — Ready or not, Wyoming, here they come.
Visitors will flock to the state this weekend and Monday to witness the first total solar eclipse to cross the U.S. in a similar fashion in 99 years.
There hasn’t been a total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast since June 1918.
While Sheridan doesn’t fall into the path of totality, parts of the state do, including Grand Teton National Park, Casper and the Fort Laramie National Historic Site. In Sheridan, the moon will eclipse of about 95.8 percent of the sun at the peak of the event.
That isn’t stopping locals from stocking up on eclipse glasses though.
Many social media posts included questions regarding where more glasses were available and warned of scams — glasses that won’t really protect you from the dangerous view.
At Sheridan Eyecare on Friday morning, a line of people hoping to snag some of the eye ware stretched down Main Street.
Sheridan Eyecare staff member Nicole Moreland said the business had “easily a couple hundred” people stop by Friday morning and noted that the phone had been ringing constantly. The business sold out of the eclipse glasses, but continues to field phone calls from those looking for them.
According to NASA, the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun. NASA also recommends an alternative viewing option: a pinhole projection.
While the eclipse won’t begin until 10:22 a.m. Monday, and will end by about 1:06 p.m., the Wyoming Department of Transportation has already noticed an increase in traffic.
WYDOT released numbers from Wednesday and Thursday of this week that show overall traffic counts increased by more than 30,000 vehicles per day when looking at the five-year average for the same timeframes in August. That isn’t surprising given that eclipse festivals kicked off Friday across the state.
Travelers from Sheridan and other portions of the country heading into the path of totality are asked to follow certain guidelines. For example, WYDOT has let drivers know that they cannot park on any highway shoulder or in any ditch area. Doing so poses a safety risk and increases the risk of fires.
While Sheridan County School Districts 2 and 3 won’t start the school year until after the eclipse Monday, Sheridan County School District 1’s first day coincides with the cosmic event.
Most of the schools will conduct programs around the eclipse, with safety glasses provided by the district for students.
As of Friday afternoon, mostly dry conditions were forecast for throughout the state for the eclipse. There is a chance of showers and storms Monday afternoon over the western mountains and the Bighorn Mountains, but forecasters said they should have little affect on the eclipse’s visibility.
For those looking for additional information about the eclipse in Wyoming, see www.travelwyoming.com/eclipse.