Bomb Cyclone Winds Blow Freight Train Off Railroad Bridge in New Mexico
The state was hit with rare 80-100 mph wind gusts on Wednesday.
A unusually powerful "bomb cyclone" storm system sweeping across the central United States blasted New Mexico with rare hurricane-force wind gusts on Wednesday, blowing roofs off houses, overturning semi-trucks on rural highways, and in one dramatic case, sweeping a freight train right off a railroad bridge.
New Mexico State Police confirmed high winds of around 80 mph derailed the rear 26 cars of a Union Pacific freight train as it crossed an elevated span over the Canadian River near the small town of Logan on Wednesday afternoon. The cars fell at least 40 feet into a broad ravine, landing upside down in a crumpled line of smashed containers and overturned flatcars. It could easily be a model train set tossed around by a child.
Thankfully, no one was injured in the derailment, though damage to the bridge's railroad ties can be seen in the photos shared by police on Twitter. ABC 7 Amarillo reports the line has been closed until further notice as it's being repaired.
It's rare but not unheard of for wind alone to take out a train. In 2015, a line of severe thunderstorms in New Orleans, Louisiana blew several freight cars off an elevated track near the Huey P. Long Bridge as a local reporter for WGNO News caught the accident on his dash cam. Thankfully, the containers landed on empty land beneath the trestle.
And while it's not so much wind as it is an actual tornado, this intense onboard video of a Union Pacific freight train charging headlong into F2 twister and paying the price during a 2008 outbreak is always worth a watch. For context, the rear-facing camera is mounted on the back of one of the engines. It starts by showing the train trundling along under cloudy skies, but things quickly deteriorate as it runs into the edge of the storm. Within seconds, the four cars immediately behind the engine are blown off the track by 120 mph winds.
Dragging the toppled cars along the edge of the trackbed and slowing to a crawl, the engines are then hit by the rest of the train, which is now running free with a fair amount of momentum. The resulting pileup included a tanker carrying liquefied ethylene oxide, a flammable gas used in the production of other industrial chemicals. Fortunately, the sealed vessel held up, and no leak was reported.
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