Solar eclipse 2024: Austin-Travis County officials ready for historic event

In less than a week, Central Texas will be in the path of totality of the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8th. 

Travis County and City of Austin leaders say they are ready for what is to come and want to make sure the public is also ready.

"We get a front row seat and the best view of this wonderful historic event," said Mayor Kirk Watson.

On Tuesday afternoon, city and county officials gathered ahead of the eclipse less than a week away. Officials are expecting over a million people to visit the state of Texas to see the eclipse unfold in person.

"We are preparing for visitor impact similar to the scale of what we would normally see over a weekend of F1 or the spring festival," said Ken Snipes with Austin Homeland Security and Emergency Management.


Travis County leaders have already issued a disaster declaration to ensure first responders are able to better manage what’s to come.

"The whole disaster declaration to make sure our first responders and public safety officials are able to better manage traffic and crowds as we anticipate more people in the unincorporated areas of Travis County than normal," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown.

The eclipse is expected to start around noon April 8th with totality around 1:46 p.m.

TxDOT is expecting traffic and a lot of it.

"Here in Austin, I-35, SH 71, US 290, US 183, our major corridors, could see gridlock and because the Hill Country is a prime spot for viewing, they could see standstill traffic as well," said Brad Wheelis with TxDOT.

TxDOT crews will be on the road that day to ensure traffic is moving to some degree and fix any issues that pop up. If you plan to drive, get on the road early or after the eclipse. If you have to drive during that time, remember to be safe.

"Drive with your headlights on, make sure that other drivers see you and look out for pedestrians who may be preoccupied with eclipse activities, keep your eyes on the road and not the eclipse, and, I can't believe I've got to say this, but do not drive with your eclipse glasses on. It is dangerous and you can't see anything anyway," said Wheelis.

Central Texas is in the path of totality so you do not have to go far to see the action. City leaders say people can just step outside their homes or offices to see it with the proper eyewear.

The Austin Public Library will be handing out free eclipse glasses at all of their locations starting Thursday, April 4 while supplies last. There is a limit of two per person. 

Nine libraries will also host eclipse watch parties: 

  • Central Library from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Cepeda Branch from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Menchaca Branch from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • North Village Branch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Old Quarry Branch from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Pleasant Hill Branch from 12:30-2:30 p.m.
  • Twin Oaks Branch from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Willie Mae Kirk Branch from noon to 2 p.m.
  • Windsor Park Branch from noon to 2 p.m.

Parks will also be a great spot to view the eclipse. The University of Texas at Austin has provided 12 telescopes with solar filters for public use. These will be available at the following parks: 

  • Colony Park
  • Onion Creek Soccer Complex
  • Roy G. Guerrero Metropolitan Park
  • Gus Garcia District Park
  • Mary Moore Searight Park
  • Pickfair Pocket Park
  • Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
  • Zilker Metropolitan Park – The Great Lawn
  • Connelly-Guerrero Senior Activity Center – will live stream the eclipse for people who want to remain indoors. There will still be folks outside with a telescope and a solar filter between noon and 2:00 p.m.

"We're lucky here that almost everyone in this city, no matter where they are, no matter what their resources are, are going to have an opportunity to experience this," said Jessica Gilzow with Austin’s Parks and Recreation.