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Santee in South Carolina could be ‘Eclipse Ground Zero’

Forecasts for eclipse visitation and traffic hotspots for the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse in the US revealed

Where is the best place to go for the eclipse? With the Total Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017 stretching right across the USA – from Oregon to South Carolina – there are thousands of potential observation points. Michael Zeiler at GreatAmericanEclipse.com has just published some invaluable traffic and visitation estimates for those planning to make their way to the Path of Totality – and he has come up with some surprises.

“I was able to come up with estimates for where the points of traffic congestion will be, as well as as estimate of how many people will go and visit the eclipse, broken down by state and by the highways that intersect the centerline of the eclipse,” said Zeiler to WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com

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So where are the really busy places going to be? “The absolute most crowded spot is going to be Santee, South Carolina,” he said. “Santee is where Interstate 95 – the freeway that goes through all the major population centers of the East Coast and connects Florida to Maine – intersects the centerline of the eclipse track.”

The absolute most crowded spot is going to be Santee, South Carolina

Described as a ‘year-round golf destination’ by Santee Tourism, the town lies on the western shores of Lake Marion in South Carolina – here’s a Google Map.

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Zeiler works in the GIS industry and has access to incredibly detailed data, including census data and road network data. “So Santee is going to be Ground Zero for eclipse visitation – it could be an absolute disaster-zone, but a predictable one.”

Santee, population 944, is a small town in Orangeburg County along the Santee River Valley in central South Carolina. “On the satellite imagery it doesn’t look like there’s anywhere to park – just some swamps and a medium-sized city – but people are going to go there,” says Zeiler. In the area is the Santee-Cooper Country Club, Santee State Park in a region popular for hiking, boating and fishing.

On the satellite imagery it doesn’t look like there’s anywhere to park – just some swamps and a medium-sized city – but people are going to go there

Organised eclipse events in the area are few and far between, with one notable exception being Paddle Santee, which is holding a Solar Eclipse Paddle on August 21 from  1-4 p.m. Visitors will be able to rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard and join a flotilla of 100+ paddlers to see eclipse from Lake Marion.

Although most dedicated eclipse-chasers are heading to the western part of the eclipse track because of a higher chance of clear skies, Zeiler thinks that South Carolinans could have a good chance of seeing Totality. “South Carolina in general will be very busy – especially in Greenville and Columbia – but I’ve heard from meteorologists that the best chance in the state might be right along the coast because of the onshore breezes,” he says, adding that eclipse-chasers in Charleston – the last town in the US to experience Totality – will have a good chance of success on eclipse day.

Photo: Interstate 95 bridge over Lake Marion, Santee, SC
Photo credit: Pollinator, CC BY-SA 3.0