Paper eclipse maps selling out in anticipation of cell phone failure

KING 5's Lili Tan reports.

For fear that the horde of eclipse watchers headed to Oregon will cause cell towers to be overtaxed, thereby making their phones useless, some are turning to paper maps. But they are finding the maps are selling out fast.

The Great American Eclipse is drawing millions from near and far. In anticipation. the window outside Metsker Maps in Seattle’s Pike Place Market is enticing gawkers thanks to a display of eclipse maps.

“I have to clean the window once or twice a day because people are continuously pointing and getting fingerprints on it,” Skip Ross said.

The store co-owner said every few years an event comes around that causes spikes in maps sales. Usually, Ross says, it is the Olympic Games or wars like the Iraq war that encourage people to buy wall and topography maps of certain regions.

This time, Oregon atlases and maps are selling out.

“It kind of caught us off guard,” Ross said, explaining he’s sold several hundred in the last two weeks. “They’ve been flying. I know a lot of people are probably relying on their GPS and their phones, but you can only get so much information on a little screen.”

Washington state troopers say to expect cell service to fail, including data for map apps.

“I’m planning to go to Eastern Oregon, and I’ve never driven out there before. A little worried with all the people planning to head down there that maybe the cell phone reception may not be so good,” said Maddie Romansic.

She picked up the last atlas at Metsker. 

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