State Emergency Response Agencies take part in exercise to prepare for 2024 solar eclipse


On February 15, 2024, federal, state, local, and private agencies participated in a tabletop exercise for the 2024 Great Northern American Solar Eclipse.

“Although we have no way of predicting all of the challenges we will face on April 8th, we are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of Arkansans and families visiting our state for the solar eclipse,” said Arkansas Public Safety Secretary Colonel Mike Hagar. “I am so impressed by the extraordinary planning and preparation that has gone into this, and I am grateful to all those who spent the day at Camp Robinson brainstorming and problem solving so that we can mitigate as many problems as possible.”

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) organized the event to discuss scenarios and test the response capabilities in preparation for the April 8 Solar Eclipse. The primary focus of the exercise was to examine the objectives and core capabilities required to handle the influx of visitors in the western, central, and northeastern parts of Arkansas, including the counties directly and indirectly affected by the eclipse. Nearly two-thirds of the state is inside the path of totality for the eclipse. The aim was to encourage exercise participants to review, share, and update their response plans during and after the exercise.

Several scenarios, such as severe weather, transportation and traffic management issues, and potential fuel shortages, may impact Arkansans during the solar eclipse. Additionally, there may be emergency events that could arise before, during, and after the eclipse. The exercise included communication, public information, and services related to public health and emergency medical services.

ADEM has been holding operational calls for the last year in preparation for the event. On Saturday, April 6, ADEM will activate its Emergency Operational Center. A quick-reference map of eclipse-related events planned across the state can be here.

Due to an expected influx of visitors to Arkansas, the Arkansas State Police (ASP) will play a crucial role in ensuring public safety surrounding the even. ASP will work closely with other law enforcement agencies to combat potential safety risks, manage hazards, monitor traffic flow, and enforce road safety regulations. ASP officials advise those who plan to attend the event to prepare ahead of time and be patient, as travel on the main interstates may be congested.

“We want everyone to enjoy the excitement of the day, but also be prepared for some delays and inconveniences,” Hagar said. “We’re asking for patience and understanding as we do our best to clear hurdles that will undoubtedly arise.”

Visitors to Arkansas are encouraged to explore the state’s beauty, history, and culture by checking out events and happenings at Arkansas State Parks. Click here for more information on places to go and things to visit while in the Natural State.

The Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) will provide additional message boards throughout the state to keep motorists updated on any traffic situations affecting their travel plans. ARDOT has a dedicated website for the latest information on the upcoming eclipse along with IDrive Arkansas.

To ensure safety, the National Weather Service recommends that travelers have multiple ways to receive weather warnings, as the large number of visitors in the state may disrupt cellular service. Travelers should also bring a portable weather station to stay informed and alerted to any potential severe weather that may occur before, during, or after the Solar Eclipse.