BLM California News.bytes 
News.bytes Extra, issue 540

Flying trains, flash floods and wash outs -- It's Glamis!

A summer thunderstorm complete with heavy rains and high winds wreaked havoc in the El Centro area late last week.  At the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, Wash Road sustained damage that will require grading, and sent maintenance crews scrambling to identify hazardous areas.  Areas where the road has been washed out, undercut, inundated with debris or pitted with large gaping holes have been marked with orange cones.  Visitors are advised to drive carefully along Wash Road, respect coned areas, and avoid heavy equipment as crews begin to repair damage to the road.

Flash floods channeled the heavy runoff from the Chocolate Mountains toward the dunes, with its east side taking the hardest hit.  The dunes act as a natural barrier, and protected Gecko Road and Cahuilla Ranger Station to the west from the damaging water.  It wasn’t rushing water that toppled the railroad cars off the tracks, however.  A microburst with an estimated 100 mile per hour gust blew 19 rail cars from the tracks, depositing them on their sides between washes 7 and 10.  The tracks themselves remained undamaged, allowing train traffic to continue.  Railroad officials are working to clean up the mess.

For more information on the Imperial Sand Dunes, or other El Centro locations, please call the El Centro Field Office at 760-337-4400, or visit our web page at www.blm.gov/ca/elcentro.

a rail car lies on its side near others on tracks
Train cars blown from the tracks during Friday's thunderstorm lie tumbled on their side.  The train in the background was not affected.  Photo: BLM/S. Tyson

a man stands in a washed out hole in a gravel road
Maintenance Chief Martin Gibson stands knee deep in damage at Wash 14.  Photo: BLM

a man places orange traffic cones on part of a gravel roadway
Damage from the storm stretched nearly the entire length of Wash Road.  Here, a worker cones a hazard area at Wash 22.   Photo:  BLM

- Joya Szalwinski, Interpretive Park Ranger, BLM El Centro Field Office / Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (July 2012)

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