On Google Maps, a mass migration in progress.
Solar Eclipse 2017 was supposed to be notable for being the first major cosmological event to be widely depicted on social media. But this notoriously difficult to photograph celestial phenomenon has also spawned some striking images on Google Maps. Once the eclipse began to wane, armchair cosmologists began heading home in droves, creating a remarkable traffic pattern that almost perfectly reflects the Path of Totality.
These screenshots were taken at approximately 3:30 p.m. EST, before rush hour revs up in most cities. Note how large metros like Charlotte, Atlanta, and Dallas remain traffic-free, compared to the ribbon of red passing through St. Louis, Nashville, and Greenville.
Major roads in the western states are similarly clogged. CityLab staff writer Kriston Capps, who just a few short hours ago published a post entitled “The Eclipse Didn’t Trigger a Wyoming Traffic Apocalypse,” is now sitting in stop and go traffic in Wyoming. “Funny because *now* there is a traffic apocalypse,” he wrote in an email.
The weekend likely acted as a buffer for incoming eclipse traffic, allowing for a slow, steady trickle of spectators. But with long drives ahead and work tomorrow, many of them apparently hopped back into their cars immediately after the sun reemerged.
Astronomers and photographers won’t be the only ones studying this historic day. They may be joined by city managers, traffic experts, and various other social scientists seeking to learn from this notable moment of mass migration.