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Tennessee: Lessons learned from 2017 Solar Eclipse


On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse moved west to east across the United States, covering fourteen states. This was a special event that required extensive planning by transportation agencies across the united states. It is important to look back at the 2017 Total Eclipse to see how state and local agencies managed the traffic operations for the traveling public.

The National Operations Center of Excellence will play an active role by being the facilitator in gathering the after action reports, action plan reports, and coordination plan reports. In six years, on April 8, 2024, we will have another total solar eclipse in the U.S. The totality starts at Mexico, crosses U.S. in a diagonal from Texas to Maine, and passes through Canada. NOCoE intends to be the main point of reference for transportation agencies by creating a national repository for the 2024 solar eclipse.

In April 2018, NOCoE hosted a virtual peer exchange where representatives from 10 agencies described their findings and observations about the 2017 solar eclipse in an online web meeting. As a proceeding to the peer exchange, NOCoE has created a dedicated webpage for each state to gather the agency’s lessons learned and findings on the 2017 solar eclipse. The below content includes the information gathered from the state of Tennessee.

The Tennessee department of military (TEMA) was assigned the main point of coordination and planning for the 2017 solar eclipse in Tennessee.

Purpose of planning efforts:

  • Provide Situational Awareness on the Eclipse
  • Overview of the State’s 2017 Solar Eclipse Coordination Plan

Solar eclipse planning goal & priorities 


  • The goal of the 2017 Solar Eclipse Coordination Plan is to support safety within Eclipse viewing areas by encouraging partners to prepare in advance for potential emergency situations, by making State emergency support resources available when possible, and by documenting actions of partner agencies for situational awareness.



  • Address Life Safety Needs
  • Support Local Governments and Resource Requests
  • Support Safe Movement along our Transportation System
  • Ensure Coordination and Communication among Local, State, & Federal Partners

Solar eclipse primary threats

Primary threat to Tennessee:

The potential for Major Disruptions and Life-Threatening Accidents on our Transportation Systems

Solar eclipse associated threats

The event’s associated threats related to the Transportation System:

  • Disrupted Emergency Service Vehicle Responses
  • Stranded Motorists
  • Disrupted School Bus & School Pickup Transportation

The event’s associated threats not related to Transportation System:

  • Attack at Mass Gatherings
  • Communication Disruptions on Cell Phones
  • Issues at Mass Gatherings (Overdoses, Fights, Crowd Control)
  • Sun Blindness Issues, Heat Exhaustion, & Non-Transportation

 Accidents/Incidents requiring Medical Assistance

  • Increased 911 Calls due to Individuals unaware of Eclipse
  • Increased Boat & Water Accidents
  • Airspace Issues
  • Solar Energy Devices

Operations Area of Practice

    Interagency Agreements / Cooperation / MOUs
    Planning for Operations
    Planned Special Events Traffic Management

Organizational Capability Element

    Freeway Operations
    Planned Special Event Management
    Local government/MPO/RTPA cooperation

Content Type


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