Cloud cover and even rain in some areas left most of Platte County without a clear view of the much-anticipated total solar eclipse.
Thousands of visitors did pass through the region hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare celestial event during totality — the brief period when the moon completely blocks out the sun. However, some likely left disappointed due to the weather.
On the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse occurred in the United States for the first time since 1979 — the first one to span the entire continent in 99 years. The approximate 70-mile wide path of totality ran from Oregon to South Carolina.
According to NASA, 12.2 million Americans live in the path of the total eclipse, including all of Platte County.
Park University’s “Total Eclipse of the Park” and other watch parties garnered plenty of attendance. In Platte City, travelers started parking in the Harrel Ferrel Park parking lot and other areas around town about two hours before the scheduled totality, which lasted about 2 minutes from 1:07 to 1:09 p.m.
John Gallagher of Overland Park, Kan. and Larry Wright of Independence, Mo. had a camera set up in the Platte Clay Fuels parking lot having picked Platte City with hopes the clouds would stay away.
The entire duration of the eclipse lasted from 11:40 a.m. to 2:35 p.m., but much of Platte County — especially the northern and eastern portions — were under cloud cover for the entire period. Rain started to fall in Platte City about an hour before totality, leaving some of the visitors to get in their cars and head for a different locale.
While North Platte cancelled classes Monday, the Park Hill, Platte County R-3 and West Platte school districts used the day to teach lessons and held mass viewings outside. Many of the buildings throughout the county received at least a partial glimpse through the clouds at some point during the eclipse.
The Mid-America Regional Council estimated that more than a million visitors could travel into the 300-mile path the eclipse took through Missouri to witness the event. Emergency management agencies, transportation officials, local governments and organizations like the American Red Cross planned for traffic problems and other challenges possibly associated with the eclipse.
Following the eclipse, traffic increased on major routes, especially those coming south from St. Joseph — considered one of the epicenters in the United States for totality viewing.
Determining exactly how many people came to the area could take a while. According to Platte County treasurer Rob Willard, sales tax numbers for August should be available in October, and any large increase in revenue could potentially be linked to the total solar eclipse.