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On August 21, 2017, millions of people across the United States will see a total eclipse of the Sun. South Carolina will be a significant destination for the eclipse because it will be the nearest spot within the path of totality for at least 100 million Americans in the Atlantic Seaboard and Florida.Cell phone service and smartphone Internet are expected to be unavailable inside the path of totality due to the large concentration of people. Cell phone companies will reinforce their network capacity for emergency responders. However, this will not increase capacity for commercial use. Visitors to South Carolina for the eclipse are encouraged to print paper versions of directions, lodging and restaurant reservations, and tickets to local eclipse events they plan to attend.Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers, according to the American Astronomical Society and the National Science Foundation.

Eclipse Traffic a Big Concern to Local and State Law Enforcement

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Much of South Carolina will experience heavy traffic on and around Aug. 21. That’s the day the much-anticipated total solar eclipse will pass through the state in a 65-mile wide path from Greenville to Charleston.   Many law enforcement officers will have their hands full that day with traffic both from locals and the many visitors the state expects, some say up to a million people statewide. 

Columbia police chief Skip Holbrook will have all his force on duty directing traffic at key points in the city, and he says his main rule to drivers is, don’t stop in traffic.  Plan ahead and keep moving to your destination, and that includes not stopping in emergency lanes to look at the eclipse.  Ambulances and other emergency vehicles need those lanes to move quickly if the need arises.  

Highway patrol Sgt. Bob Beres adds that it’s not unsafe, but illegal to stop along the state’s interstates unless it’s an emergency.  Both officers urge people to pre-plan their viewing places, use parking lots if it’s necessary to pull off the road, and limit distractions.  Expecting some fender benders, Holbrook says tow trucks will be placed strategically around the city, but he hopes people will use caution so that they won’t be needed.

Tut Underwood is producer of South Carolina Focus, a weekly news feature. A native of Alabama, Tut graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Speech Communication. He worked in radio in his hometown before moving to Columbia where he received a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of South Carolina, and worked for local radio while pursuing his degree. He also worked in television. He was employed as a public information specialist for USC, and became Director of Public Information and Marketing for the South Carolina State Museum. His hobbies include reading, listening to music in a variety of styles and collecting movies and old time radio programs.