• Locomotives and Tornado Safety

  • General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment
General discussion about locomotives, rolling stock, and equipment

Moderator: John_Perkowski

  by Denver Dude
When I see a loaded coal train on the Colorado plains, I wonder how it would fare if a tornado were to meet up with it. I can't see 140+ ton coal cars tossed around, but I guess anything is possible. I really can't picture a 420,000 lb. locomotive being picked up and thrown across a field. I guess that objects could be thrown through the cab windows, but not much more than that. I think if the crew got on the floor they would be safe.
Any thoughts?
  by Allen Hazen
Interesting (and, toward the end, SCARY) U-tube clip!
Supports Denver Dude's speculations, in a way, but also shows what he missed. The "420,000 pound locomotive," as Denver Dude predicted, seems to have stayed on the track, bu the following freight cars...
He thought loaded, 280,000 pound, cars were unlikely to get blown away... but of course freight cars aren't always loaded with high-density freight! (Cars can be blown off tracks -- particularly if the track is in an exposed location -- by winds less intense than tornados.). And once a car of a moving train derails, it can pull the vehicles it is coupled to off the rails as well.
As for the scary bit... in the video, a cut of cars immediately behind the locomotive derailed, falling clear enough of the track for the tail end of the train to roll forward and tai-end the locomotive. And the car leading the rolling part, the car that hit the locomotive at the end of the clip, was a tank car. Thank goodness it wasn't loaded with inflammable/explosive material!
  by Denver Dude
I have seen that clip before. Allen, I mentioned coal cars, not lower-weight cars. I guess in a tornado coal could be sucked out of cars. So let's go with something I saw the other day - covered coal cars. Or something else that weighs 140+ tons. I don't know that much about freight cars, but I would think that loaded coal cars are about the heaviest. I'd be curious to see how a train with the heaviest freight fares.
  by Wayside
I would say it depends on the size of the tornado. I recall a 3/4 mile-wide F5 that practically wiped Jarrell TX off the map, leaving a wide swath of slabs where there were once homes and businesses.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1997_Cent ... o_outbreak

I don't believe the average run-of-the-mill twister could blow a modern loco off the track, but a monster one might have a shot.
  by CarterB
I would think an EF5 would pretty much wipe out anything on rails.