Oswego County Anticipates Traffic and Communications Issues Due to Solar Eclipse April 8

April 2, 2024

Oswego County Legislature Chairman James Weatherup has declared a local State of Emergency ahead of next week’s anticipated total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8.

“Oswego County is situated in the ‘path of totality’ for this rare event, which means that the eclipse will be viewable in every corner of our county,” said Chairman Weatherup. “As a result, our population is expected to temporarily double in size with visitors coming from around the world to experience it with us. While this is an exciting occasion, we also want to make sure that our residents and visitors are all able to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime event safely and with as little disruption as possible.”

In anticipation of the event, the Chairman is expected to also issue an Emergency Order later this week which will close all county buildings and facilities on April 8, except as necessary for essential operations.

The closures will include all three Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices, all Department of Solid Waste transfer stations, the Bristol Hill Landfill and the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF). The Energy Recover Facility (ERF) will remain open for haulers.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) reports that anyone experiencing homelessness will still be able to call “211” for assistance on April 8. The Health Department (HD) reminds residents that if they are experiencing public health or environmental issues, they can call the after-hours answering service at 315-341-0086 and on-call staff will be ready to respond.

The Office for the Aging (OFA) reports that all seniors’ home delivered meals will arrive one hour earlier than usual on April 8, except Oswego City residents who will receive an extra meal with their usual delivery on Friday, April 5 instead. Also, all OFA congregate dining sites in Fulton, Parish and Phoenix will serve lunch at 11 a.m. instead of noon and seniors are encouraged to depart meal sites by 1 p.m. Please note that there will be no transportation to congregate dining sites that day.

The Oswego County Airport will be closed to motor vehicle traffic on April 8 and staff are working directly with fly-in visitors. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Coordinator reminds drone pilots to check with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to be aware of first responder drones in the air to ensure public safety. Go to https://www.faa.gov/uas.

The Office of Mobility Management will not run public transit services on April 8 to avoid having riders on buses for prolonged periods of time due to expected traffic delays.

“The Emergency Order and coordinated closures are strictly precautionary safety measures related to anticipated high traffic volumes and possible communications disruptions due to a large number of data users overwhelming the capacity of nearby cellular towers,” Chairman Weatherup said. “Please keep in mind that these conditions would only be temporary. There is no need to panic or hoard supplies, so don’t rush out to the stores and clear out their shelves.

“We simply want to make people aware of the fact that there will be a significant influx of people into our area,” he added. “That means increased traffic on our roadways, possible dropped calls or busy signals, and likely longer lines and wait times at traffic lights, gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants.”

The Chairman reminds people to prepare for crowds with the following tips:

  • Reschedule appointments, if possible, to avoid traffic delays.
  • Fill up gas tanks early to avoid long lines at the gas station.
  • Get groceries this weekend to avoid crowded stores.
  • Make sure your phone is charged and not in airplane mode to enhance cell service.
  • Have a landline or WiFi signal available for back-up communications.

“Traffic is estimated to be highest in the afternoon and into the evening, so we’re encouraging visitors to come early and stay late to help keep traffic moving,” said Chairman Weatherup. “Everyone is encouraged to call ahead to their destination, whether it’s a grocery store or a doctor’s office, to verify business hours on April 8, as they may change. Most importantly, we’re asking people to please have extra patience. You will still get to where you’re going.”

Eye safety is also of utmost importance to avoid serious injury when viewing the solar eclipse. Regular sunglasses – no matter how dark – will not protect your eyes. Only special purpose solar filters that comply with the ISO 12312-2 international standard allow people to safely look directly at the sun. Keep in mind that these special eclipse glasses should only be used for eclipse viewing and not while engaging in other activities such as driving.

On Monday, April 8, the total solar eclipse will begin after 2 p.m., with totality between 3:15 and 3:30 p.m., and conclude after 4:30 p.m.

For more information about the eclipse including eye safety, schedule changes, events, pet tips and general readiness, go to https://visitoswegocounty.com/eclipse/.