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Northern Vermont is in the path of totality for a rare total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8.

Vermont braces for a massive influx of visitors as totality approaches

A large lion statue outside of a brown building wears a giant pair of solar eclipse glasses
Peter Engisch
Vermont Public
At the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury this stone lion is ready to safely view the eclipse.

After months (and in some cases years) of waiting and preparation, the 2024 solar eclipse is here.

Around 3:25 p.m. Monday afternoon northwestern Vermont will be plunged into darkness for about three minutes as the moon completely covers the sun.

The path of totality includes all of Northwest Vermont, including Burlington and the Northeast Kingdom, and reaches as far south as Middlebury, Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury. As many as 160,000 people could come to Vermont to view this once-in-a-generation celestial event, according to state estimates.

“Think of this as peak foliage weekend on steroids,” Gov. Phil Scott said during a press conference last week.

See Vermont Public's eclipse liveblog for the latest updates.

The number of visitors could be on the higher end of the state’s estimation given the expected forecast — which calls for sunny and mostly clear skies and temperatures in the 50s to near 60. Vermont has among the "best chances for clear viewing" along path of totality, according to the national forecast.

The Northeast Kingdom is expected to have ideal conditions for viewing. In the Champlain Valley, which includes Burlington, forecasters are expecting some translucent clouds in the afternoon.

"There will be like kind of filtered sunshine," said Eric Myskowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Burlington. "So you'll be able to see the sun through the clouds, but there will still be clouds there. So it's not going to be an absolutely clear sky."

Still, Myskowski said, he doesn't expect the clouds to substantially impede views of the eclipse.

Public safety officials are urging people to be patient in traffic and if they can, arrive at events early and stay late. People are also being advised to make sure they have a full tank of gas (or have fully charged their EVs), food, downloaded directions, and paper maps.

The state has also extended hours at its highway welcome centers and added more portable restrooms. State officials say cell service providers are working to make sure cell service isn’t affected by the increase in network usage.

The Agency of Transportation expects the highest volume of traffic to be at the following roads:

  • US 4 in Mendon, Bridgewater, and Woodstock
  • VT 103 in Ludlow, Clarendon, and Cavendish
  • VT 100 in Waterbury
  • US 5 in Brattleboro
  • I-89 from Exit 10 to U.S. Route 2 and the Champlain Islands
  • US 7 in Shelburne, Ferrisburgh, and Pittsford
  • Williston I-89 exit ramps, VT 2A, US 2
  • Burlington main local roads
  • VT 15 in Essex
  • US 2 and VT 117 in Richmond
  • I-91 in Rockingham
  • VT 9 in Brattleboro and Wilmington
  • I-89 in Waterbury, Middlesex, Montpelier, and Hartford

There are eclipse viewing events planned across the state from a block party in Barre to yoga in Enosburg to an “exorcism of all evil” led by Bread and Puppet Theater in Glover.
In Alburgh, which has planned a three-day festival for the eclipse, Boston resident Tory Lane and her husband started planning two years ago to see today's eclipse. They found an inn in town that was going to be open specially for the eclipse. They visited a restaurant Friday night and now, they’re just exploring the area.

"It’s adorable!," she said. "I mean, the fact that it was having a fair for the eclipse was really fun and exciting. It’s super charming. I’m happy to be here."

In Burlington, the state’s largest city, there will be viewing parties at public parks throughout the city from Leddy Park in the New North End to Oakledge Park in the South End.

On Sunday, Church Street and the waterfront was bustling as visitors began streaming into the Queen City. New Jersey resident Ken Koch came to Burlington to view what will be his second total solar eclipse. He watched the 2017 eclipse in South Carolina and was hooked.

“I never expected that to be such a profound experience … And once you do it's addicting,” Koch said. “When it goes totally dark, there's just something emotional. There's just this dark hole surrounded by the corona — which is brilliant.”

A man with sunglasses and a hat poses for a picture.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
New Jersey resident Ken Koch came to Burlington to view his second total solar eclipse. He saw the 2017 eclipse in South Carolina.

The crowds for the eclipse are expected to be significantly higher than Burlington’s July 3 celebrations, which draw about 23,000, said Zach Williamson, festival and event director at Burlington City Arts.

The city is closing several roads including Battery Street, parts of North Ave and College Street and Route 127, which will be used as a parking lot.

More from Vermont Public: Be aware of planned road closures for the total solar eclipse

And with forecasters calling for good weather, there could be an even bigger influx of visitors as people make last minute decisions to come to view the eclipse, Williamson said.

“I want to make sure everyone who wants to see totality has an opportunity … But be ready for congestion and possibly some trouble getting here at that point,” Williamson said on Sunday.

If crowds exceed 50,000 in the Queen City, police officials say they’re not confident that they’ll be able to maintain traffic flow in the city. If the crowds exceed 75,000 there will likely be total gridlock and Interstate 89, Route 7, and Route 2 could be shut down, police said.

Anyone planning to view the eclipse needs to wear eye protection. Many municipalities and businesses are distributing or selling special glasses to allow safe viewing of the eclipse.

Officials are also asking people to stay off the trails and out of the backcountry. April is mud season in Vermont and many dirt roads and trails are saturated after last week’s nor'easter.

On social media, the Waterbury Backcountry Rescue Team urged people not hike on remote trails in the area. “If you do anyway, plan to be completely on your own for a great many hours and possibly days,” they wrote.

Vermont Public's Brittany Patterson and Sabine Poux contributed reporting.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

More eclipse resources

See all of Vermont Public's 2024 eclipse coverage.

Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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