Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Thursday, August 12, 1999 Published at 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK

Eclipse traffic 'hangover'

Traffic has clogged the roads out of the West Country

A traffic "hangover" is bringing misery to thousands of motorists trying to leave the West Country after Wednesday's total eclipse party.

Special report
Special report
11 August
Bottlenecks on major routes are causing serious headaches for drivers more than 24 hours after an initial exodus caused a 70 kilometre (43 mile) traffic jam in Devon.

Traffic planners predict a further two days of problems as motorists flood out of the West Country at a rate of 3,200 cars an hour, causing hold-ups on the M5, A30 and A38.

A 10-car pile-up on the A38 at Buckfastleigh, Devon, caused a six-mile queue while the A30 was reported to be heavy with traffic all the way through Cornwall and Devon.

More holidaymakers on the way

Police, who are urging motorists to stagger their homeward journeys, fear an influx of holidaymakers this weekend will add to the chaos.

[ image: The eclipse lasted for two minutes, although for many it was obscured by cloud]
The eclipse lasted for two minutes, although for many it was obscured by cloud
A spokesman for the Exeter Traffic Control Centre said: "We are still suffering from a traffic hangover.

"We have had heavy flows all day and tailbacks of more than five miles in places.

"The traffic level is what we would expect on a normal holiday Saturday."

There are still an estimated 150,000 extra visitors in Devon alone.

Eclipse event planners had hoped visitors to the region for the first UK mainland eclipse since 1927 would stay in Cornwall and stagger their journey home, travelling between 7pm and 7am.

But thousands ignored the advice, and the region's Chief Constable, John Evans, predicted "more congestion than we saw on the way here".

The tourists boosted the county's economy by millions. The patchwork weather did not put people off the trip. But cloud cover was the least of some people's worries.

Helplines at eye centres were flooded with calls from people who feared they had damaged their sight by looking at the Sun. London's Moorfields eye hospital reported more than 300 calls after the partial eclipse in the capital.

Sun is 'getting brighter'

Although Wednesday's focus was on the dazzle of the Sun being obscured by the Moon, a scientist concluded after the eclipse that the Sun is getting brighter.

Dr Chris Davis, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, asked people to take part in a unique radio experiment to see how reception from Spain was affected when the Moon cast a shadow on the Earth.

During a total eclipse the absorbing layer of electrified particles created by sunlight are weakened. The particles are usually high in the Earth's atmosphere and reflect radio waves.

"By measuring how far radio waves can travel during an eclipse, we can work out the strength of the absorbing layer and therefore how bright the corona (super-heated outside layer of the Sun) is," he told The Daily Telegraph.

He concluded the Sun was getting brighter because, although it is "early days", he said "it looks like there was a lot of radiation coming from the corona".

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Relevant Stories

11 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
UK touched by history

11 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
Pagan weddings eclipse hearts

11 Aug 99 | Total Eclipse
Earth wonders at heaven's gift

In this section

Eclipse provides unique solar image

Earth wonders at heaven's gift

European watchers faced eclipse lottery

Eclipse seekers flock to Iranian town

Asian fear and wonder at eclipse

Eclipse shadow unveils scientific mysteries

Under the Moon's shadow

Eclipse experience starts flood of e-mail

Eclipse scientists in the swing

Safety in sight

UK touched by history

Eclipse eye damage reports rise

Pagan weddings eclipse hearts

Eclipse sparks record power surge

Wildlife fooled by double dawn

South-West delivers eclipse verdict

Papers thrilled by eclipse

Total eclipse. Total coverage

A global perspective of the eclipse

Views of the eclipse from around the UK

The eclipse - how was it for you?

Signs and wonders

Eclipse links

Eclipse archive

Solar science

Day becomes night

Sun block

Watch it

Eclipse news archive