Will the solar eclipse be bad for business or create chaos on August 21? Probably not, but we have a few things you can be aware of for your organization.
If you haven’t heard (how have you not heard?), the US will experience a rare solar event on August 21 this year, one it hasn’t seen for 38 years. This solar eclipse — said to be the biggest in American history — will be visible coast to coast for the majority of the country at some point during the day. Why is it such a big deal? The buzz is because a total solar eclipse hasn’t happened in the US since our country’s founding, and it’s not going to happen again anytime soon.
What’s this phenomenon all about? A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, blocking out the sun’s light and creating a somewhat eerie near-darkness for all of us down here watching. If you paid attention in science class, you may be aware that the sun is 400 times wider than the moon. It’s also 400 times farther from Earth, so they appear the same size to the human eye, enabling the moon to block the sun’s light.
Now that you’ve gotten Bonnie Tyler out of your head, you may be wondering if and how the eclipse may affect your business. The short answer is that it likely won’t cause any major disruption for most, but it could present some subsequent consequences depending on where you’re located.
What to Expect — Realistically
No, you’re not going to go mad and the planet won’t come to an end, as many of our Google-lacking ancestors feared. What’s more likely is that you’ll encounter some potential public safety or infrastructure challenges and could be affected by power outages. This increases if you’re located within the eclipse’s direct viewing path, which extends from Oregon to South Carolina, beginning at approximately 10:19 AM PT in Madras, Oregon and ending in Charleston, South Carolina at 2:44 PM ET.
Here’s how this could go down for cities in between:
- Tourism spikes: You may or may not be fascinated by this event, but thousands of people are and are traveling to areas where they can get a front-row seat. If your business falls near a city expected to have high visibility, anticipate a population increase for a day or two.
- Traffic jams: A high volume of people traveling at once means traffic could become a logistical issue for your employees who have to be in the field. Extra time and caution should be planned, and some states could see gas shortages.
- Internet and phone lapses: It’s going to be a heavy search day throughout the country as people, particularly those just getting in the know, rush to collect information, call friends and snap photos and videos, something providers are already prepping for. This could result in internet or phone capabilities that lose strength or temporarily go out altogether.
- Power outages: This could be the biggest issue businesses face. States that heavily utilize solar power, like North Carolina and California, will experience a drop off in solar energy absorbed. This drop off could cause a major disruption to the power grid. If so, a sudden surge in the demand for backup power could result in outages. This is something to consider for hospitals, schools and other facilities that can’t afford to miss a beat.
That said, you likely won’t end up with much more than a few minutes of existential weirdness, but if your area is particularly close to the viewing path, you may want to evaluate how your business could be affected on August 21 and make some plans just in case. Otherwise, grab your super attractive solar eclipse glasses and set up your lawn chair for a pretty cool three minutes of planetary wonder.