The massive Missionary Ridge wildfire was already burning along the trainís route to Silverton. The wildfire was the second largest in Colorado history, burning nearly 75,000 acres before being extinguished in early July. It would be three weeks before the train could resume operations, forcing it to lose over $1 million.
The State of Colorado issued an emergency $1 million loan to the railroad, which employees 200 people in the cities of Durango and Silverton and delivers a $100 million annual economic impact to the area.
Meanwhile, the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad from Chama, NM to Antonito, CO was forced to suspend operations on June 7th as the result of an order from the U.S. Forest Service. It was restarted on June 28th, much to the relief of local businesses who are heavily dependent on the attraction for tourism dollars.
The C&TS takes heavy protective measures including a tank car in the train consist sprays water along the rails and out 12 feet on either side of the train. There is also a fire suppression team that follows the train and a fire truck that travels along with the train on Route 17. 6,400,000 acres burned due to wildfires in the United States in 2003, twice the average.
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The U. S. Naval Observatory (www.usno.navy.mil) is a wonderful source for all kinds of information related to astronomy and the sky. They have information on sunrise and sunset, moonrise and moonset, and eclipses as well as information on exact time of the seasons.
Speaking of seasons, summer officially begins on June 21st at 0646 GMT. That's 1:46 am CDT for us. Don't think I'll be up at that hour to greet the beginning of a new season.
And if you live in or around Fayette, there was an minor earthquake this morning. Here is the information from a Public Information Statement issued by the National Weather Service in Birmingham:
EARTHQUAKE FELT WEAKLY BY RESIDENTS IN FAYETTE THIS MORNING. NO
DAMAGE WAS REPORTED.
AT LEAST A DOZEN RESIDENTS ACROSS THE NORTHERN PART OF THE CITY OF
FAYETTE WERE AWAKENED THIS MORNING BY A WEAK EARTHQUAKE. THE
REPORTS RANGED FROM MINOR SHAKING TO A SONIC BOOM TYPE SOUND. THE
EARTHQUAKE OCCURRED AT 415 AM CDT.
THE NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE INFORMATION CENTER IN GOLDEN COLORADO
INDICATED THE EARTHQUAKE MAGNITUDE OF 2.2 ON THE RICHTER SCALE WAS
CENTERED 2 MILES NORTHEAST OF BELK...OR 4 MILES WEST SOUTHWEST OF
FAYETTE...OR 8 MILES NORTHEAST OF KENNEDY. THE EARTHQUAKE
ORIGINATED FROM A DEPTH OF 3.1 MILES. ANY FURTHER INFORMATION WILL
BE MADE AVAILABLE WHEN IT IS RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE
INFORMATION CENTER IN GOLDEN COLORADO.
Not much change in our weather though the high amplitude pattern is beginning to dampen just a bit. The east coast trough continues to keep Alabama under northerly flow so the mild for June weather continues.
Temperatures will begin to climb with lower 90s expected toward the latter half of the week as the ridge to our west begins to insert more influence on us.
GFS continues to show a good deal of showers in the tropics but conditions are not currently favorable for any significant development.
Hope everyone was able to enjoy this wonderful June weather. Summer will official begin just after midnight tomorrow night.