Hopkinsville and state officials said they are prepared for thousands of additional motorists to descend on the small southwestern Kentucky town in time for Monday’s total solar eclipse.
More than 100,000 visitors are expected to come to the the town of 30,000 to view the rare event.
On Sunday, thousands of people were in downtown Hopksinville for the Summer Salute Festival, a festival to celebrate Monday’s Eclipse. Restaurants were already packed Sunday night.
But there were few traffic hiccups or backups around the city on Sunday, Hopkinsville police said.
But Hopkinsville officials and state transportation officials expect traffic to pick up Monday morning. The total solar eclipse will be visible from Hopkinsville starting at 1:24 p.m. CT Monday. (In Lexington where a partial eclipse will be visible, the maximum eclipse will occur at 2:28 p.m.)
The Christian County Sheriff’s department has placed signs across the county to direct visitors to Hopkinsville and to warn motorists of possible delays.
Transportation cabinet and state police are also using a helicopter to monitor traffic from above.
Interstate 65, US 41, US 79, US 31-W and US 68 are expected to see an influx of traffic, according to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Motorists are not allowed to pull over or stop along the roadways during the eclipse unless it is an emergency, state police warned Sunday.
Police warned they will tow disabled and abandoned vehicles on I-24 and I-69, Pennyrile Parkway, Western Kentucky Parkway and Kentucky Route 91.
Mother Nature may cooperate for Monday’s eclipse. WKYT-TV meteorologist Chris Bailey says no rain is expected but there could be some clouds. Temperatures are expected to hit a high of 90 degrees on Monday in Hopkinsville.
That’s why Kentucky transportation officials have advised motorists heading to western Kentucky to bring lots of additional water, extra snacks and to keep gas tanks full in case of traffic back-ups.
Many people have traveled thousands of miles to come to Kentucky to view the total solar eclipse.
Gerard Fitzpatrick, from Ireland, lives in Queens and came to see the eclipse with his 13-year-old son, Christopher. The elder Fitzpatrick said he has always been interested in the moon and stars, but decided to make the trip to Hopkinsville after seeing his son’s reaction after learning about the total solar eclipse last week.
“We just rented a car, hit the road, and that's it,” he said.
Simon Jones, from Cardiff, the capital of Wales, plans to see the eclipse in Hopkinsville with his wife, Carolyn, and 15-year-old daughter Rachel. Jones said he promised his daughter that he would take her to see a total eclipse after she missed out on a 2015 partial eclipse in Wales.
The solar eclipse will be seen in more than 10 states, including Kentucky, but Jones said his family picked Hopkinsville as their viewing spot because it was a part of the United States they might have not seen otherwise. The longest eclipse duration in Kentucky occurs in Hopkinsville.
“We booked it last October because I heard that places were starting to book up,” Jones said via Twitter message. “I've been following the http://eclipseville.com website since then and a few months ago we decided we were going to watch the eclipse from the Hopkinsville Community College campus.”
Jones, who viewed the 1999 total solar eclipse in France, called it a “truly magical” experience.
“All the birds went to roost, you could feel it get colder, it was amazing,” he messaged.
Jones added that seeing a partial eclipse and being in the line of totality are completely different experiences.
“It's like standing outside a concert arena versus being in the front row,” he said.