Weather service: 80 mph winds blew train off Lufkin bridge

Weather service: 80 mph winds blew train off Lufkin bridge
Soure: KTRE Staff
Soure: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Clean-up began for many Monday in the aftermath of the powerful storm which blew over 64 train cars in Lufkin.

"I heard a horrific noise; crashing and banging, and a shelf fell off my bathroom wall," said Sharon Van Slooten, a Lufkin resident.

It was the storm that swept through the city, uprooting trees and leaving what were once car ports in complete shreds.

"It woke me up. When they say it sounds like a freight train, now I know," Van Slooten said.

And while Sharon Van Slooten heard a freight train, others saw one, right in the middle of Loop 287 in Lufkin.

"Nothing quite like this before," said Jason Hansford, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Hansford says 80 mile-per-hour winds took a train off a bridge on the Lufkin loop Sunday morning.

"They actually accelerated down this hill and, so a lot of the concentrated damage was here at the base of the hill," Hansford said. "We also have a kind of a funneling effect from the trees and the dip here, and so we had an enhanced gradient of around 80 mile-per-hour winds."

The 80 mph winds were powerful enough to leave at least two of a 64-car train on their sides. And while strong winds and the resulting damage have left many to conclude…

"It was a tornado," Van Slooten said.

The official cause?

"Damaging straight-line winds from strong thunderstorms that moved through yesterday morning," Hansford said.

The train cars were empty and Hansford said that likely contributed to them being blown off the tracks.

"If they were actually filled with supplies or other material that added more weight, I believe the train cars here could've stayed upright and not have toppled here onto the side," Hansford said.

A&NR President David Perkins said it would take several weeks to remove the fallen cars. The four cars which blocked Loop 287 were removed Sunday night.

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