Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting trucking, transportation and weather. This week features old train cars fitted with water tanks for firefighting, a deadly wreck caused by a sandstorm, a trucker who misjudged floodwaters and more.

Track record

As large wildfires continued to burn out West this week, response teams got help from a unique source — converted freight trains. Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) deployed one of its water trains to the nearly adjacent Dixie and Fly fires in Northern California.

Related: Wildfires halt Union Pacific, BNSF trains in Northern California

The train consists of two rail cars, each holding 12,500 gallons of water and a pumper. The train has been going back and forth over 7-mile stretches, covering up to 50 miles daily.

Thanks to our crews on our fire trains, working tirelessly to help control fires in northern California, such as near Keddie, Calif. pic.twitter.com/FxRSPTcQ8c

— Union Pacific (@UnionPacific) July 26, 2021

The crew has been battling hot spots along tracks, bridges and tunnels in the region by not only spraying water, but also applying thermal gel to help prevent damage to nearby structures. The nozzles can spray liquids up to 75 feet. These former tank cars were converted into water pump cars, and Union Pacific has about 50 of them, known as the Fire Car Fleet. They are strategically placed along the company’s rail lines in California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado, and their crews are ready to respond, day or night.

Dust in the wind

A dust storm Sunday in Utah led to a major pileup, eight deaths and several critical injuries. It happened around 4:30 p.m. on Interstate 15 near Kanosh, about 160 miles south of Salt Lake City. Southbound traffic in the area was shut down until early Monday morning.

We have updated our news release to reflect the latest number of fatalities in the Millard County: 7https://t.co/P5oNefVGEC pic.twitter.com/4X1njhlW2Y

— Utah Highway Patrol (@UTHighwayPatrol) July 26, 2021

According to a Utah Department of Public Safety statement, “twenty-two vehicles were involved in Sunday’s crashes after high winds caused a sand or dust storm and impaired visibility on the roadway.” The area has been under a major drought for a year, and wildfires have charred the ground in recent years. This made it easy for powerful winds that day to produce the intense storm.

Turn around, don’t drown

A trucker in Yuma, Arizona, learned a tough lesson about trying to drive through floodwaters. Recent monsoonal thunderstorms dumped intense rainfall in the area, flooding a portion of U.S. Highway 95 north of the city. That’s where the tanker driver attempted to make it through the high water, but ended up losing control and rolling over.

So this happened around 3 days ago out on milepost 61 of highway 95 north of Yuma. Thankfully the driver got out without any apparent harm.

Wait for it! The guy at the end, “I got a rope” is GOLD! #yuma #arizona #rain #floods pic.twitter.com/Nywlu9AMB4

— Trucking News, Satire, Humor & More (@everydaytrucker) July 29, 2021

By all accounts, the driver got out of the cab and wasn’t hurt. However, driving through flooded areas is dangerous because people often underestimate the depth of the water, as well as the strength of moving water. Also, the road could wash out, leaving drivers in a sinkhole. On average, in the past 30 years, flooding caused the second-highest number of annual weather-related deaths in the country. Heat was No. 1, according to the National Weather Service.

Over the rainbow

There’s a lot of beautiful weather out there — it’s not all gloom and doom. A truck driver took a snapshot of a perfect rainbow Thursday in Vermont. It appeared near the ABFFreight service center in Brattleboro, along the Connecticut River in the southeastern corner of the state.

A rainbow appears when sunlight and atmospheric conditions are just right. A rainbow requires water droplets floating in the air, which is why they are visible right after it rains. To increase the chances of seeing a rainbow, the sun must be at a person’s back and the clouds cleared away.

ABF Freight driver Alan Levy recently captured this photo of a beautiful summer rainbow over our Brattleboro, Vt., service center. What a lovely image! Thank you for sharing, Alan.#trucking #truckers #freight #truckdrivers #trucks #rainbow #ABFFreight pic.twitter.com/QwPN4hx84i

— ABF Freight (@ABFtoday) July 28, 2021

When light enters a water droplet, it slows down and bends as it goes from air to the denser water. The light reflects off the inside of the droplet, separating into its component wavelengths, or colors. When light exits the droplet, it makes a rainbow.

A full rainbow is actually a complete circle, but we can only see the part that’s above the horizon. From an airplane, in the right conditions, one can see an entire circle.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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