Newport ready for flood of eclipse visitors

Tens of thousands are expected to visit Newport

Nye Beach in Newport, Oregon. (Mark Gunn via Creative Commons)

EWPORT, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Newport is expecting a record number of visitors this weekend for the solar eclipse and with four days to go, they’re already starting to trickle in.

City officials are getting ready for the influx of tens of thousands of new tourists to the small beach town. The police department has tripled its staff, the fire department will be manning all of its fire halls and the city has brought in extra portable bathrooms.

“It’s kind of exciting for all the business and for Newport to get the recognition that we’re getting,” Newport Chief of Police Jason Malloy said. “But we only have so much space for so many people. I think we’re just going to try and make it work and make them fit the best way we can.”

“Eye on the Eclipse” – a KOIN 6 News special at 8 p.m. Saturday

Bill Hewitt with the Port of Newport RV and Marina said RV spots have been sold out since March and he doesn’t know how he’s going to handle the crowds on Monday. He said of 144 spots, 100 will be clearing out on Monday, right after the eclipse.

“We’re looking forward to the end of the eclipse,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said they still have plenty of boat spots available at the marina.

All the camping sites and hotels have been sold out for months, so there’s the added issue of people illegally camping on the beach. Police said they won’t be kicking everyone out, but will take it on a case by case basis. Oregon State Parks officials have already warned campers against sleeping on the beach. The new moon on August 21 will cause higher tides than normal, which at best will cause a wet wake-up call and at worst, could sweep people out to sea.

“The tides are going to be over 9-feet high and that’s going to eat up a lot of beach,” city manager Spencer Nebel said.

Traffic is at the top of everyone’s mind. City managers are worried about the thousands of cars on Hwy 101 and what might happen if Monday morning ends up being cloudy. Police are getting ready for the possibility that thousands will leave Newport at the last minute to catch a better glimpse of the eclipse somewhere else. 

“We have contingency plans of they weather turns bad,” Malloy said. “A lot of people will try to leave as quick as they can.”

Complete coverage of the solar eclipse