Accident occurred just hours after the storm clobbered the Southeast coast — when two sleeper cars and a baggage car derailed
The Associated Press
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Three cars on an Amtrak train carrying more than 300 passengers on a route from Miami to New York derailed in snow-covered Savannah after a fierce winter storm, but no injuries were reported.
Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams said Silver Meteor train 98 was backing slowly into the Savannah station about 10 p.m. Wednesday — hours after the storm clobbered the Southeast coast — when two sleeper cars and a baggage car derailed.
“All three cars — a baggage car and two sleeper cars — are fully upright,” Abrams said in an email statement early Thursday to The Associated Press.
He said there were 311 passengers on board, in addition to crew, but he had no reports of anyone hurt.
Abrams’ statement said the main train was to continue its journey north though some of the sleeping car passengers had to be put aboard a different train.
He didn’t say what caused the derailment, and the statement also gave no immediate indication whether the storm that coated Savannah with a rare snowfall on Wednesday was a factor.
The National Weather Service said Savannah’s first measurable snowfall since February 2010 was recorded Wednesday in the normally balmy Southern City at 1.2 inches. It was the first snow in Savannah that exceeded an inch in 28 years. The fast-intensifying storm on Thursday had moved farther up the East Coast.
News footage from the site showed police and other emergency vehicles with flashing lights crunching over snow and ice and converging near tracks where the derailment occurred.
Passenger Joel Potischman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he boarded the train early in the day in Delray Beach, Fla., to head home to Brooklyn, New York. He said the train was en route north amid winter scenes of snow and ice.
Another passenger, Mike Zevon, told the newspaper that it was the last three cars that derailed.
Abrams’ statement didn’t elaborate on how many cars were in the formation and conditions with the weather or the tracks at the time.
Weather experts are calling the hard freeze across the U.S. a “bomb cyclone.”
It’s a version of a real weather term that applies to a massive winter storm that pulled together Wednesday off the U.S. Southeast coast. But as fearsome as the storm is with high winds and some snow, it may not be quite as explosive as the term sounds.
Meteorologists have used the term “bomb” for storms for decades, based on a strict definition, said University of Oklahoma meteorology professor Jason Furtado.
After it showed it showed up in a Washington Post story on Tuesday, the weather geek term took on a life of its own on social media. The same thing happened four years ago with “polar vortex,” another long-used weather term that was little known to the public until then.
“Bombogenesis is the technical term. Bomb cyclone is a shortened version of it, better for social media,” said Weather.US meteorologist Ryan Maue, who helped popularize polar vortex in 2014.
“The actual impacts aren’t going to be a bomb at all,” Maue said. “There’s nothing exploding or detonating.”
Storm intensity is measured by central pressure — the lower the pressure, the stronger. A storm is considered a “bomb” when the pressure drops rapidly — at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.
This storm looks like it will intensify at twice that rate, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
So far, the storm has dumped freak snow on the Southeast. It’s aiming for the Northeast, where the snow forecast for Thursday isn’t that big a deal, Furtado and others said. The worst of this storm will stay out to sea. What is going to be bigger is the high winds — gusts exceeding 60 mph — and the bitter cold that follows, they said.
Bomb cyclones draw air from polar regions after they leave. In this case, it means extra cold Arctic air because of where the polar vortex is, Furtado said.
Worldwide, about 40 to 50 “bomb cyclones” brew each year, but most are over open ocean and nobody but weather geeks notice, Maue said.
“We use the term bomb,” Furtado said. “We know what it means, but I do think it gets a little hyped up.”