Five college football games ending all at once. A hurricane evacuation. Several inches of snow.
These are a few of the logistical headaches South Carolina safety authorities have compared to the potential impact of the total solar eclipse set to pass directly over the state Monday afternoon.
With as many as 2 million visitors expected to descend on the Palmetto State to witness the rare event, officials are reminding residents one final time to avoid putting themselves in precarious situations.
First and foremost, the sun's rays have potential to cause permanent eye damage if not properly protected, warns Dr. Lillian Peake of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. With counterfeit eclipse glasses proliferating, the American Astronomical Society urges users to make sure their glasses are from a reputable manufacturer and should be inscribed with ISO 12312-2 certification.
Ideally, officials recommend arriving at the location where you plan to watch the eclipse hours in advance to avoid possible heavy traffic and stocking up on supplies over the weekend.
If commuters can't avoid the roads on Monday afternoon, AAA Carolinas warns drivers to exercise defensive driving at all times and be aware of the possibility that other drivers may unexpectedly swerve into their lane. The roadside assistance club recommends filling up on gas, reducing speed, not relying on cellphones for navigation, and turning on headlights well before the sky goes dark to ensure continued visibility and to make yourself more noticeable to other drivers.
All major roadways in the state will remain open, according to Tom Johnson, the emergency management director of the S.C. Department of Transportation. Lane closures will be suspended to keep traffic flowing.
Major Rob Woods of the S.C. Highway Patrol will be dispatching an additional 160 officers to bolster the normal assignments for Monday.
At the S.C. Emergency Management Division, volunteer amateur radio operators are prepared to assist with emergency communications in case cellphone signals get jammed up during the eclipse.
"We're going to have folks here monitoring, ready to take actions should any issues arise," said Gabriel Turner, the agency's communications manager. "We don't expect any issues, but we're here ready in case there are."
The team has faced far more challenging situations before. During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the amateur radio room was staffed 24 hours a day for 13 straight days, Turner said.
The entire EMD complex will be staffed with approximately 75 people, said spokesman Derrec Becker. That pales in comparison to major events like hurricanes, when up to 600 emergency workers can be operating out of the building and surrounding area if federal authorities get involved, Becker said.
But emergency officials insist that they do not anticipate any major problems.
"Team South Carolina is ready as we always are," said Adjutant General Robert Livingston Jr., the state's top military official, earlier this month. "I would just encourage the people of South Carolina to enjoy this event and stay off the roads."