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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy Baby

Here's me...waiting for Sandy (as in hurricane) to arrive and smack us around.  It's an unwelcome visit from one of the creatures more typically seen in Tim Joe's neck of the woods.  We have snow and floods according to season up here but Florida and the Gulf coast is supposed to be home to tropical storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes etc.; not upstate New York.  That's one reason I like it here most times...lack of exciting weather beyond summer T-storms and the occasional Alberta Clipper.  We did get an actual F1 tornado in the area last summer which was absolutely unacceptable.  But as long as they don't become too common, I can almost accept something that short-lived and short-tracked.  A full-blown (no pun intended) hurricane however is just over the top.

One of those southern phenomena (a miserable prick named Lee) passed through last year and I didn't work for a week.  30 miles of track went under water, whole chunks of hillside disappeared and I sat home while they dug the railroad out from under the downed trees, mudslides and debris and then filled in the washouts.  The damage was awesome and there's still areas that have not and probably will not ever recover.  Whole city blocks just disappeared under water before it was over.  I thought the '72 flood was something but this made that one look like a cow pissing on a flat rock.  It just plain sucked.

So now here we go again.  It's raining a little as I look out the back door but the real festivities aren't slated to get underway until Monday and Tuesday.  We're far enough inland that we probably won't get the really big wind but the rain is supposed to be intense and slow in passing.  Seems like we just got through that '500 year flood' or some other zillion year flood last year.  I'm not too concerned with high water or high wind right here but it could get interesting if the juice is off for days.  The trees are still leafy and heavy in places and the ground is wet to begin with.  I suspect the power lines are in for a butt-kicking from falling firewood.  If this keeps up, the news people are going to run out of colorful, dangerous sounding metaphors to run in the headlines.  Let's just say I'm a little weary of 'epic' weather these days.

And of course, the railroad won't commit to a shutdown until the water is over the ties and the trees are dropping like dominoes.  The commuter roads are closing up shop for the duration and Amtrak is calling it a day shortly but not us.  They hate to surrender too soon and I get that but this thing is almost 700 miles across already and she's courting a mid-west low for a little dance around the east coast that promises to set records from Norfolk to Nova Scotia.  It's hard for them to admit but sometimes even the railroad hasn't got the biggest brass ones around.

I've seen the results when you try to keep going.  I sat on a train almost 20 hours staring out the windshield at downed trees waiting for rescue once before and that was just from a thunderstorm.  I also backed a pair of  brand-new CN engines away from a moving washout while I watched the ballast disappear out of sight into the river about 10 yards in front of me.  I brought the last train into our terminal before a hill turned to mud behind me, dropped out from under the track and left rail and ties hanging like a big necklace over empty air.  Oh yeah, the weather can kick us around when it gets ugly.

Besides the destruction, I know what'll happen even if it's just the power out for too long on our friendly CP main...no radio bases, signals go out, control points go into code fail, street crossing gates stay down...been there, done that too.  Sometimes, you just gotta cut your losses and go home until the crap lets up and then regroup.

So I'll be watching the computer until the power goes and I lose my router but for now, nobody knows for sure what's going to transpire and if they do, they're not saying.  Shhhh...It's a secret.

See you all after Sandy moves north to pester Canadians.

2 comments:

Tim Joe said...

I can't decide if the weather is worse than in the past or if the news people are just more excitable. The river was only inches from the River Road Sunday, but with a combination of a storm offshore and an approaching full Moon the high tide was about where it should be.

I remember your posts from the storms. Nothing like a little meteorlogical drama to feed the literary fires. Good luck with "Sandy" (how do they come up with these names?) and let us know.

tj

Wayward Son said...

I know the feeling TJ. The wind and flood warnings are all downgraded to watches and the sun did come up behind the clouds despite all the end-of-the-world news coverage. Good thing it's almost over so the news people can let their thesaurus rest a while. How many ways can you say 'bad storm'?

I know the coast really did get it hard but at least most of it went south and west of Wayward. Onward to the next epic...