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Eclipse: Slow influx of visitors Friday, preparations for 50,000 Tell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Two planes at the airport Friday afternoon. Up to 75 similar planes are expected on the big day, Monday, but passengers will likely watch the sky from there.

Preparations are in place to handle about 50,000 visitors in Lincoln County, Tryon and Stapleton on Eclipse Day, but no one knows if that many will arrive.

As of Saturday morning, the weather forecast Monday calls for a 10 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 5 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 89.

The eclipse will begin around 11:30 a.m. and climax at 1 p.m.

Outside of a small chance of rain, the forecast is for mostly sunny skies, with a high near 90, the National Weather Service in North Platte said.

At the North Platte Regional Airport, officials expect up to 75 charter planes to land on Monday morning, carrying from 4-20 people each. Most of the passengers will watch the eclipse from the airport, said Vince Dugan, the owner of Trego-Dugan aviation, so those visitors will not overload North Platte services.

Dugan has quadrupled his staff on Monday and will have 20 people available to handle the planes.

Muriel Clark, the associate director of the Lincoln County/North Platte Visitor’s Bureau, said Friday that hospitality groups and emergency planners have been meeting for months, aiming to prepare to handle 50,000 visitors, but she did not know if that many would arrive or not.

Clark said several busloads of visitors from oversees are booked to arrive in North Platte on tour groups to see the epic eclipse Monday. She said people are coming from Germany, Scotland, the United Kingdom and other places. She was not sure what night they would arrive.

The big wild card will be the number of travelers who come on Monday, just for eclipse day, from Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas, Clark said.

She seemed unworried Friday afternoon.

“It’s gonna be what it’s gonna be,” she said, “sun or a bit of clouds. The main thing is to show the hospitality of the North Platte Canteen, and let visitors know we want them to have a good time and come back to our community.”

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/18/2017
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