Colorado's Woes Owed to Historic RainfallWhile Colorado has had occasional and rare stretches of showers and overcast skies, the rainfall this week has shattered records. In some places, over half a year's worth of rain fell in a few short days. No one I know can recall this kind of flooding ever happening here. Ever.
Erosion fascinates me. Water under pressure does amazing things. Canyons thought to form over millennia can happen within days, as witnessed on Mt. Saint Helens, given the right pressure, viscosity and debris. Dams thought secure can overtop and within minutes begin to tear open. And as witnessed this week on network TV, roads can be eaten out from under cars while people sit inside unaware and in grave danger.
Considering the weight of locomotives, cars and cargo, imagine what a pair of rails need to stay solid. Railroads are only as good as the ballast beneath them. Still, there's something else I noticed today.
|Colorado's cities (red) and railroads (dashed lines). Quick and ugly map created on nationalatlas.gov|
The northern half of the Front Range Urban Corridor is highlighted.
Ironically, Amtrak's Pioneer traveled the same rails, but in the opposite direction from Denver northward to Seattle until the early 90s. Since then, only the California Zephyr continues to grace Denver's presence. While Amtrak hasn't issued any information regarding the status of the daily Zephyr, both Class I railroads in Colorado have issued statements.
Class I Railroads AffectedUnion Pacific issued a statement yesterday regarding the impact of the storms, indicating a likely delay of 24 hours for the affected areas including Limon, Colorado Springs, Commerce City, Rolla and Greeley.
BNSF issued a more detailed statement today regarding specific locations, saying,
The track at South Colorado Springs, Colorado is out of service due to washout. South Colorado Springs, Colorado is approximately 72 miles south of Denver, Colorado. The main track is expected to return to service later this evening, Friday, September 13, 2013.
The tracks at Boulder, Colorado and Loveland, Colorado are out of service due to multiple washouts. Boulder, Colorado is approximately 30 miles northwest of Denver, Colorado, and Loveland, Colorado is approximately 52 miles north of Denver, Colorado. No estimated return to service has been issued yet. Customers between Broomfield, Colorado, and Dixon, Colorado, will not be serviced until track is restored.
You can bet the MOW gangs are going to have a time making the weak sections solid again.
Stay dry, folks! Hopefully, we've seen the worst of it.◊