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  • IndyStar | The Indianapolis Star

    Indiana did not see an influx of traffic on solar eclipse day like predicted. What happened?

    By Katie Wiseman, Boris Ladwig and Laura Lane, Indianapolis Star,


    Indiana State Police expected thousands of visitors to view the total solar eclipse. Governor Eric Holcomb even signed and emergency order. But the state didn't see nearly the number of tourists expected.

    The April 8 solar eclipse was predicted to be big day for Indiana tourism, and while in many ways it still was, the crowds were not what local officials predicted.

    Here's what happened during the 2024 total solar eclipse.

    Read more from the Herald-Times: Eclipse day was sunny in Indiana. Where were the crowds?

    Bloomington's numbers were lower than expected

    Instead of 300,000 spectators, as multiple officials projected, Bloomington saw tens of thousands, according to early estimates, The Herald-Times reported .

    While the smaller-than-expected crowds enabled the city to escape snarled traffic, the overestimates also kept some Bloomington residents from leaving their homes and attending the local events, including those at Switchyard Park and Memorial Stadium .

    At the Bloomington Police Department, officers of all ranks were scheduled to work 12-hour shifts. But they were cut to 10 hours as the day progressed and the anticipated crowds failed to appear.

    Nashville also saw lower numbers than predicted

    Between 50,000 and 100,000 eclipse viewers were expected in Nashville and Brown County, an estimated 20,000 showed up.

    Indianapolis saw the most tourists, but still lower than estimated

    Indiana State Police told IndyStar in March they were expecting about as much traffic for the eclipse as the city sees for the Indy 500, which can be anywhere from 200,000 to 250,000 visitors.

    Clare Clark, senior communications manager for Visit Indy, confirmed that Indianapolis welcomed 125,000 visitors for the eclipse, with representation from all 50 states and 35 countries.

    Why was solar eclipse viewing attendance lower than expected?

    According to NASA, the path of totality for this year’s eclipse was between 108 and 122 miles wide, or about 72% wider, at the high end, than the eclipse in 2017. This year, about 31.6 million people lived in the path of totality, compared with 12 million in 2017.

    The eclipse this year also passed over “more cities and densely populated areas” than in 2017, NASA said.

    That meant people had more options as to where to travel, reducing the likelihood of congestion for any particular area.

    Several Indiana cities had reported chances of cloud cover during the eclipse, which may have also been a reason fewer tourists came to Indiana, but neither Indianapolis or Bloomington ended up having any clouds block the view of the solar event.

    Schools being closed for the day also helped reduce normal traffic in cities.

    Local events, tourism still saw success despite fewer visitors than planned

    Despite getting fewer visitors than planned, several cities in the state still saw great success.

    Airbnb said Indianapolis was the #1 most booked destination within the path of totality and there was a virtual sell-out of hotel rooms on Sunday night ahead of the eclipse, Visit Indy said.

    Visit Indy also broke their record for the most website traffic in a single day on the day of the eclipse, meaning tourists and locals were looking for things to do.

    Mike McAfee, executive director of Visit Bloomington, said hotels and short-term rentals were “near capacity,” though he won’t have final data until later this month.

    IU spokesman Mark Bode said the university hosted “tens of thousands of visitors and students across at least seven separate events,” including “nearly 10,000” at Memorial Stadium.

    Katie Wiseman is a trending news intern at IndyStar. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman .

    This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana did not see an influx of traffic on solar eclipse day like predicted. What happened?

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