Weather Experts Contradict NJT

NJ Transit suffered serious damage to its passenger cars and locomotives when Hurricane Sandy flooded storage yards at Kearny in the Jersey Meadows and at Hoboken.  Whether the decision to move equipment to those yards in advance of the storm was a wise one has become a front-page controversy.  NJT Executive Director James Weinstein has steadfastly held that the decision was a wise one, based on the weather models and forecasts available to the railroad—but according to reporting by Stephen Stirling on Dec. 12 in the Star-Ledger, most advice from scores of forecasts and computer models showed that the Kearny yard was far more likely to flood than the 10-20% chance that NJT has said forecasts predicted.  Some forecasters said that NJT never contacted them for advice on interpreting the forecasts; moreover, had NJT done so, they would have advised NJT as early as Sunday afternoon, Oct. 28, that flooding in the Kearny yards was a near certainty.  Controversy over whether NJT could have made a better decision on storing its equipment, and whether the railroad would have had time to execute moving the rolling stock to higher ground, continues to reverberate.  Complicating the railroad’s planning was the history of previous storms: the Hoboken and Kearny yards had never flooded, whereas other areas had been subject to flooding from rising rivers, notably the Trenton station area, which might have stranded equipment across the Delaware in the railroad’s Morrisville, Pennsylvania, yard.  Fearful of this, NJT apparently decided to move equipment out of that facility into the Kearny yard, safe from river flooding but unfortunately subject to flooding from the ocean storm surge that caused great damage in this storm.