Report: High Winds Toppled Train in Oklahoma

A BNSF railway officials said the 12 to 14 intermodal cars were likely blown over by high winds near Waynoka.


June 03--Railway officials suspect high winds derailed at least a dozen train cars northeast of Waynoka on Sunday.

While he has not received the official final report on the incident, Joe Faust, BNSF Railway director of public affairs, said a wind advisory had been issued in the area shortly before the train derailed at 11:10 p.m. Sunday.

He said every indication points to high winds being the cause of the derailment.

There were no injuries, Faust said.

"The contents of one of the cars contained fireworks, so that was considered hazardous. But we didn't have to evacuate anything," he said.

The train was pulling intermodal cars -- which are railcars carrying trailers. There were two trailers per car.

"It was basically 28 trailers that derailed ... so 12 to 14 cars," he said.

Faust did not know if the train was traveling or stopped when it was derailed.

The railroad works with Hulcher, a heavy equipment company, to remediate derailments when they occur.

"What normally happens, when these incidents happen, is that we'll work with Hulcher to re-rail the cars that can continue and those that aren't are cleared so that train traffic can resume. Traffic has resumed," he said.

Waynoka Fire Chief John Smiley sent firefighters out to secure the scene of the train derailment.

He said he believes there were straight-line winds at the time. He had received a weather alert about the possibility of 70 mph winds and ping-pong ball sized hail.

"And that's pretty close to what we had. We had a lot of storm damage. I think we lost two or three poles and (had) some power lines down. Several outbuildings and houses received all kinds of damage," Smiley said.

At some homes, windows were knocked out by hail, he said.

"At my house, we got about an inch of rain, maybe two, but the hail was about six inches deep on the ground. It covered the ground white. And the winds were 60 to 70 miles an hour, I would say, easy," Smiley said. "The north sides of their houses, the hail was going sideways with the wind and it knocked all their windows out and the rain blew right on into their house."

The winds blew the fire department's repeater down for fire and emergency medical service radios, Smiley said.

"I know there's going to be a lot of roofs that need to be replaced because of the hail. There's all kinds of damage to private vehicles," he said. "The insurance adjusters will be pretty busy around here, I imagine."

Wind damage also was reported in Cleo Springs, located in Major County.

Kyle Naugle, a local firefighter, said Tuesday that there was damage to homes and trees.

"It's not ... extremely bad," he said. "Roofs, barns, trailers were tipped over, the roof was lifted completely up off this guy's house and set back down on it. It's a destroyed home," he said.

Naugle did not know what the wind speeds were during the storm.

There is not a Mesonet weather-recording site in Cleo Springs to record what wind gusts were in the community, but in the Major County town of Fairview, maximum wind gusts reached 47 mph Sunday.

Naugle said gusts were higher than 47 mph in Cleo Springs.

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