NEW YORK (CBS) Tens of millions of people in the U.S. are expected to be watching some version of the solar eclipse later this month. The vast numbers have emergency responders bracing for traffic jams, communication failures and other unforeseen problems that might pop up.
South Carolina officials are urging residents and visitors to get their plan in place for viewing the total solar eclipse on August 21st. "Our overriding concern is safety," said David Abrams, Charleston County's EMS director. "Make sure you bring hydration and medications...make sure you have appropriate eye wear when looking at the sun."
South Carolina is on the coast to coast swath where people will be able to watch as the moon completely blocks the sun. Authorities are expecting thousands to flood to parks and other open spaces to get a glimpse of the spectacle, using protective eyewear. Traffic will be heavy and cell phone service will be stretched to its limits.
"This is the first total solar eclipse in the U.S. in the cellular era, so some of the impacts may not be known ahead of time," said Bill Tunic, Charleston County's director of telecommunications.
You don't have to live near the line of totality to witness this astronomical wonder. Americans who live outside the path of complete darkness, including in New York, will still be able to experience quite a phenomenon.
"You should definitely watch it. Just because you're not in the path of totality doesn't mean the experience won't be kind of mind boggling as it's happening," said Dr. Jackie Faherty, an astronomer with the American Museum of Natural History.
This will be the first coast to coast eclipse in 99 years.
"I mean I live in Manhattan, so I'll have to probably do something to find the right space to see it, but I'm totally going to try to see it," said Nitika Chopra, a New York resident.
A once-in-a-lifetime spectacle shared across the entire United States.