Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: What To Expect

Flickr user: Bconstant
Tens of thousands of East Coast residents are scrambling to prepare for what is said to be one of the largest Hurricanes to hit the United States in recent history. Hurricane Sandy is said to be at its strongest here in the City of Boston tomorrow afternoon. In response Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has declared a State of Emergency.

Other cities that are in Sandy's path are also declaring states of emergency and ordering mandatory evacuations and closings. In New York 375,000 people were asked to evacuate in lower Manhattan and other parts of New York City and 30,000 people were evacuated from Atlantic City in New Jersey

Public transportation has also been suspended in a few states. In New York City the MTA will be suspending all subway, bus, Metro North Railroad, and Long Island Railroad service at 7pm tonight until 12 hours after Sandy clears (which will probably be Wednesday morning). In New Jersey, New Jersey Transit will be suspending all rail and light rail service all day tomorrow.  Amtrak will also be suspending most of its East Coast rail lines they include: ALL Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Keystone & Shuttle services, Empire service, Adirondack,Vermonter, Ethan Allen and Pennsylvanian train services are suspened along with the overnight Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Lake Shore Limited, Palmetto and Silver Meteor trains. The WMATA in Washington D.C. as well as Pennsylvania's SEPTA, and Maryland's MARC are also suspending service.

Here in Boston, the MBTA has announced that they will be suspending all service at 2pm this afternoon. There are many different obstructions that can cause the MBTA to delay service during severe weather. Here are some problems that the T has faced in recent years.

The portable dam blocking off
the Fenway Portal
Courtesy: MassDOT

  • Flooding: Tunnels all around the MBTA system are prone to flooding when a large amount of rain falls in a short period of time. Pumps do help with this but it can not always be avoided. Large amounts of water building up on track can also cause the earth and ballast under the track to wash out causing unsafe conditions. One of the most famous incidents of flooding in the MBTA system was in 1991 when the Muddy River overflowed its banks and flooded the Fenway Portal and Kenmore station. The MBTA now has a portable dam in place at the Fenway Portal that will protect the portal and Kenmore station from flood waters. 

Washout on the Riverside Line
Courtesy: MBTA 
  • Downed Catenary Wire: The entire MBTA Green Line is electrified by overhead electrical wire. On the aboveground trolley routes it is very possible that tree limbs could fall on this wire and knock it off of its supports. Catenary repairs can sometimes be a very lengthy fix so downed wires can cause major delays. In the past, the "D" Riverside branch of the Green Line has had the most problems with downed wires. The Providence and Stoughton Commuter Rail Line could also experience delays due to downed wires. 
Tree down on the Red Line during Hurricane Irene
Courtesy: MBTA

  • Downed Trees/Limbs: Most of the lines in the MBTA system run through areas where trees hang over the tracks. In high winds, if the trees have not been cut back, large tree limbs can fall onto the tracks, trains, catenary, and third rail. Although it depends on how large they are , fallen branches and trees can cause major delays. In the past the MBTA has run special trains on all lines that have special equipment to clear large debris from the tracks. 

For up to date information on the MBTA over next few days be sure to check or follow @mbtaGM on twitter. You can also call (617)-222-3200 for more information. I will also be tweeting about the hurricane and any updates I receive follow me @Boston_to_a_t


  1. I have never seen the pictures of what happened to the trains. I always knew it was bad because of what I heard when I was looking for jobs in NJ. Plus it didn't help when I was trying to get transportation to my interviews, but I didn't think anything of it then.

  2. Good day! Do you have any writing education or this is a completely natural gift? Can't wait to see your reply.


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