Traffic is slow along the entire Path of Totality. Google Maps

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.

The roadways in red and yellow follow the path of the eclipse. (Google Maps)

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.

Heavy traffic leaving Salem, Oregon in both directions. (Google Maps)

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.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    The Last Daycares Standing

    In places where most child cares and schools have closed, in-home family daycares that remain open aren’t seeing the demand  — or the support — they expected.

  2. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  3. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

  4. a photo of the Singapore skyline
    Coronavirus

    The Strange, Fragile Normalcy of Life in Singapore

    Hailed for its early efforts to contain Covid-19, Singapore has recently seen a surge in new coronavirus cases. Still, daily life is surprisingly unaffected.

  5. photo: an Uber vehicle in Miami
    Coronavirus

    The Human Cost of Calling an Uber Right Now

    Uber and Lyft drivers risk Covid-19 infections to shuttle doctors and vulnerable people around. Can they get the same job protections as other frontline workers?

×