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Posts Make Ominous, Unfounded Claims About April 8 Eclipse Preparations

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Quick Take

Local governments are preparing residents for an influx of visitors during the April 8 solar eclipse that will be most visible along a narrow path through the U.S., with one Oklahoma county inviting the National Guard for support. But social media posts baselessly claim the preparations suggest “something catastrophic” will occur during the eclipse.

Full Story

A total solar eclipse — in which the moon briefly blocks the face of the sun — will be visible on a narrow path from western Mexico, through the United States, and into Maritime Canada on April 8. At locations along the “path of totality” where the astronomical alignment can be best viewed, the full eclipse will last four and a half minutes. The last time the U.S. experienced a total eclipse was in August 2017, and the next opportunity to see one in the U.S. will be in August 2044.

National agencies and local governments have been preparing for the impact the event will have on towns along the path of the total eclipse due to the number of visitors expected at those locations.

People attend a solar eclipse viewing event at the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles on Aug. 21, 2017. Photo by Xinhua/Zhao Hanrong via Getty Images.

In advance of the partial eclipse in 2023 and the total eclipse in 2024, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a fact sheet that explained, “Because a solar eclipse is a relatively rare type of planned special event, it can generate large volumes of traffic for which State and local departments of transportation (DOTs) will need to prepare.” That fact sheet also noted that the total eclipse in 2017 “created delays and queuing on rural interstates and highways across the Nation.”

The health department of Oswego County, New York, like many counties that will have a view of the total eclipse, has suggested that residents fill up vehicle gasoline tanks and buy groceries before visitors arrive in the area. Lorain County, Ohio, has advised that cell phone signals may be lost “due to system overload” caused by the influx of visitors. Many school districts will close or have early dismissals to allow students to experience the eclipse.

But some social media posts are making unfounded claims that the government preparations for the eclipse are signs of something ominous.

Counties Anticipate Crowds, Call in Support

The text on a March 19 Instagram post reads, “1 month Before the ECLIPSE They are Declaring State of Disaster!” An unidentified woman in the video in the post says, in part, “What in the world is really going on? A month before the eclipse, Travis County [Texas] declares a state of emergency, and also asks for help because they believe their hospitals are going to be full. There’s going to be a lot of chaos going around. Schools are going to be closed. … No signal. Something just doesn’t add up. We’ve had eclipses before and we’ve never seen this type of stuff.”

Another Instagram post about preparations in Travis County, Texas, misleadingly claims, “They know something catastrophic will happen.”

It’s true that Travis County, Texas, issued a disaster declaration on March 8. The city of Lago Vista explained why on its website on March 11: “Travis County Judge Andy Brown declared a local state of disaster in anticipation of extremely large crowds, increased traffic and strains on first responders, hospitals and roads since we are in the direct path of totality for the eclipse. This disaster declaration will allow first responders and public safety officials to better manage traffic and crowds as we are expected to have our population double in size for this once in a lifetime phenomenon.”

A viral TikTok post shared on Facebook questions why McCurtain County, Oklahoma, is calling up the National Guard during the eclipse. “This is getting wild. The National Guard is going to be here now for the solar eclipse. … But things get much weirder.” The video’s narrator then says “an elite chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear unit” also will be housed nearby during the eclipse. The narrator adds, “People are going on Twitter making statements like this, ‘Something strange is definitely happening.'”

Oklahoma National Guard troops will indeed be on hand during the event, and a statement from the Guard explained their role.

“McCurtain County Emergency Management requested our support because they expect up to 100,000 additional people visiting their communities to watch the eclipse,” Lt. Col. Jabonn Flurry, commander of the 63rd Civil Support Team, said in a March 18 press release from the Oklahoma National Guard. “This influx of visitors has the potential to overtax local resources and thanks to the training and experience our Guardsmen have working alongside local agencies all across Oklahoma, the CST is uniquely qualified to support our fellow Oklahomans.” 

The press release also said, “In the event of a HAZMAT emergency like an industrial fire that requires specialized training, the 63rd CST’s resources will respond, allowing local emergency responders to continue their assistance to citizens and the expected increase of visitors.”

The release didn’t mention the post’s claim about an “elite chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear unit,” but it noted: “Members of the 63rd CST receive more than 650 hours of HAZMAT and high-tech training from agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency.” 

This is not the first time local governments have geared up for the impact of an eclipse, contrary to what some social media posts claim. The Oregon Office of Emergency Management prepared for a year ahead of the 2017 eclipse. The National Park Service suggested stocking up with food, water and gas in preparation for viewing the 2017 eclipse in Grand Teton National Park. The state of Wyoming also experienced unanticipated, record-breaking traffic jams after the eclipse that year.

NASA recommends that everyone viewing the eclipse follow health and safety measures, including the use of specialized eye protection or indirect viewing equipment.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.


City of Lago Vista, Texas. “Disaster Declaration issued ahead of the 4/8/24 Solar Eclipse.” 11 Mar 2024.

Lorain County, Ohio, Commissioners. “April 8th, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.” Accessed 21 Mar 2024.

McCullough, Erin. “Rutherford County Schools closing for solar eclipse April 8.” WKRN. 21 Mar 2024.

NASA. “2024 Total Solar Eclipse.” Accessed 20 Mar 2024.

NASA. “Eclipse Safety.” Accessed 21 Mar 2024.

National Park Service. Grand Teton National Park. “2017 Total Solar Eclipse.” 21 Aug 2017.

Oklahoma National Guard. Press release. “Oklahoma National Guard to assist McCurtain County amid influx of eclipse tourism.” 18 Mar 2024.

Oregon Department of Emergency Management. “Hazards and Preparedness: 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.” Accessed 22 Mar 2024.

Oswego County Health Department. “Be Ready For Total Solar Eclipse On April 8.” 21 Feb 2024.

Peek, Katie. “Here Are the Best Places to View the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse.” Scientific American. 2 Feb 2024.

Rainey, Libby. “Wyoming solar eclipse traffic jam was one for the record books.” Denver Post. Updated 23 Aug 2017.

Somers, Jennifer. “These St. Louis-area schools will be closed for the April 8 solar eclipse.” KSDK-TV. Updated 21 Mar 2024.

Travis County, Texas. “Travis County Declaration of Local Disaster Due April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse.” 8 Mar 2024.

U.S. Department of Transportation. Fact sheet. “Preparing for a Solar Eclipse.” Accessed 21 Mar 2024.