Crowds gather across Clark County to watch eclipse

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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Residents around Clark County collectively paused and looked upward Monday morning to take in the unique and rare light show created by a partial solar eclipse.

The weather cooperated with the highly anticipated event, as cloudless skies made it possible to witness the spectacle.

But one prediction happily didn’t come true — the fear of clogged roadways.

More than 1 million people were expected to descend upon the region, a number that had transportation officials fearing heavy traffic throughout the day. However, morning commuters in Clark County were surprisingly greeted with open roadways as sightseers made it to their destinations in the path of totality with hours to spare.

Traffic on Interstate 205 did get crowded later in the afternoon, but nothing compared to the onslaught of cars that converged on Interstate 5 in Salem, Ore., which was in the path of totality. Heavy traffic was reported south to Eugene, Ore., and north to Portland into the evening.

As 10 a.m. approached, darkness spread, as the moon slowly nudged out the sun, prompting street lights to turn on and motorists to use their headlights for a couple of minutes.

Along with the 99 percent occluded sunlight, the moon also briefly blocked the sun’s heat, turning a 68-degree morning noticeably cooler.

Meteorologists in the Portland National Weather Service office noted a 2-degree drop in local temperatures during the eclipse.

Temperatures in two Oregon cities, Pendleton and Redmond, dropped 7 degrees, NWS meteorologist David Bishop said.

Overall, there were no major emergency incidents related to the eclipse reported, including no immediate calls for service for any eye-related problems.

Authorities did offer one last piece of advice: The cardboard eclipse glasses are recyclable, but throw away the film lenses.