Monday’s total solar eclipse, certainly the most anticipated event in Oregon in many years, didn’t disappoint.
Based on the comments we’ve heard from readers, the eclipse at least met their expectations, and for most, exceeded them.
We too were impressed by how quickly the eclipse transformed a familiar place — we watched from the Herald’s parking lot — into something surreal and eerily beautiful.
But we were also pleased by what didn’t happen as a result of the eclipse.
By all indications, at least as of Tuesday, it seems that none of the more troubling potential effects of the event, and the presence of thousands of visitors, came to pass.
We’ve seen no confirmed reports of human-caused wildfires.
It appears that food and fuel supplies were adequate in most if not all cases, and cell networks seemed to handle the additional demand.
There were areas of traffic congestion — particularly on Highway 86 near the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center before the eclipse, and on sections of Interstate 84 after — but the effects were much less severe than during several snowstorms last winter.
Fortunately, drivers showed admirable patience as they negotiated the bottlenecks, including two sections of Interstate 84 where construction has narrowed the freeway to a single lane.
Although there’s ample evidence, from business owners and others, that the influx of eclipse watchers happened later than many expected — the weekend was relatively tranquil, with a significant percentage of visitors arriving late Sunday or early Monday — we think the months of planning and preparation, an effort that involved most local agencies, also helped considerably in avoiding the major problems that some people expected.
We’re confident that emergency managers and fire and police officials, among others, learned valuable lessons from the eclipse that will pay off during future events, such as blizzards, that are much less hyped than the eclipse, but also much more common.
From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of publisher Kari Borgen, editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.