Solar eclipse emergency: Texas county braces for fuel shortages, massive crowds

By Brian Lada,
People watch the total solar eclipse on an overlook bluff above the town of Prineville, Ore., on August 21, 2017. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
People watch the total solar eclipse on an overlook bluff above the town of Prineville, Ore., on August 21, 2017. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

A state of emergency has been declared in part of Texas ahead of the total solar eclipse on April 8 -- and officials are bracing for the worst as a dramatic influx of travelers could spark eclipse-induced chaos.

"In order to protect the health, safety and welfare of both residents and visitors, Bell County has determined that extraordinary measures must be taken in the form of a local emergency declaration," Bell County officials said.


Bell County is located north of Austin and is one of the prime viewing sites in the state for witnessing the total solar eclipse.

The population of Bell County is likely to double from 400,000 to 800,000 leading up to the eclipse, which could strain local infrastructure, cause extreme traffic congestion and potentially lead to food and fuel shortages, officials warned.It is not just Bell County that is anticipating a surge of eclipse visitors as millions of people will crowd into the narrow path of totality from Texas to Maine, as well as parts of Mexico and Canada, with hopes of witnessing a one-in-a-lifetime event.

Anyone who lives in the path or who is planning on traveling to see the eclipse should follow a few tips:

  • Purchase groceries and supplies the week prior.
  • Be prepared for cell phone network disruptions.
  • Avoid travel if possible on the day of the eclipse, especially in the hours immediately after the eclipse ends.
  • Residents who live in the path of totality should check with their local ordinances leading up to the eclipse, as places such as Bell County are requiring folks to register with the county before hosting any parties, camping or gatherings of more than 50 people.

Texas is one of the most popular travel destinations for April's eclipse due to the prospects of cloud-free weather and the fact that the eclipse will last longer than in any other part of the United States.

The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is firmly in the path of totality, but that is not the case with the other major cities in the state.

A map of the path of totality in Texas. Image courtesy of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

San Antonio and Austin are on the border of the path of totality, so some parts of the cities will experience a total solar eclipse while other regions will not. Meanwhile, Houston is outside of the path, so residents and visitors will have to travel northwest on April 8 to experience the breathtaking event.

United States experiences total solar eclipse

The sun shines behind the moon during the total solar eclipse viewed from Prineville, Ore. Photo by Pat Benic | License Photo

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