Small Missouri, Kansas towns prepare for total solar eclipse

LATHROP, Mo. (AP) — Some small Missouri and Kansas towns that’ll offer the best views of next year’s total solar eclipse are trying to prepare for the event.

The Kansas City Star reports that the eclipse will occur Aug. 21, 2017. Small towns like Lathrop, Missouri, are on what is known as the path of totality, a narrow line across Missouri and a corner of Kansas that offers the best and longest views of the eclipse.

Lathrop has formed a 150th anniversary and eclipse planning committee.

Committee chairwoman Cindy Weers says she envisions the town’s fields filled with eclipse chasers and tourists. Weers says she’s been told to expect anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 people.

“It’s hard to fathom that many people,” St. Louis eclipse task force head Trish Erzfeld said. “It’s hard to get your hands around how many people will actually show up. Who knows?”

Weers says the town has started on many projects, but could use advise for planning for such a large-scale event.

“It’s not like a county fair or a football game,” she said. “When you talk about a total eclipse going across the whole U.S., there’s no playbook or tutorial. It’s unfolding, and you have to work it out as you go.”

Erzfeld will meet throughout the year with local authorities and with other communities that want advice on planning their own eclipse events. But once Erzfeld has her plans finalized, she’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.

St. Joseph and Lathrop are favored spots only if the weather cooperates, though. Depending on the forecast, eclipse chasers may end up driving to different towns across the state for a perfect view.

“Diehards will be glued to their phones to see where the sky is clear,” Henderson said. “In the Midwest, weather is always uncertain.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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