When a Storm Hits  by  Martin Burwash
The wind is still whipping the trees and the snow is still falling. An eastbound stack train holds the siding at Skykomish and has been there for much of the night. Downed power lines have neighboring US 2 closed, downed trees up near the Blue Rock Slide have the mainline closed as well. Members of the Sky section gang have highrailed in, but are soon over powered by the jumble of fallen timber. They are headed back down for reinforcements.

It's been a long night. The stack train's hogger reads a book, while the conductor braves the elements to have a smoke. Hurry up and wait, not an usual situation when a storm hits.
Unlimited Track and Time
Back down the hill from trying to clear the line, members of the section gang regroup. Armed with fresh chain saws, they give up on their truck. To get the timber out of the way is going to take something with a little more "umph". Loading their saws onto the the 1042, they will use the lead unit of the train to help push the trees clear of the line. Reluctantly, the dispatcher has no choice but give them unlimited track and time.
Getting Ready to Plow
While the gang logs, there is action down at the Sky yard. A set of power has arrived from Everett, assigned to the snow dozer. As the engine crew talks things over with the Roadmaster, the plow crew jumps in one of their pick-ups for the short trip to the east end of the yard where the plow is stored.
After sweeping out and lining a switch, Conductor James Weeks guides engineer Mike "Mad Dog" Sawyer in for a gentle coupling to the dozer. Once coupled the crew works to get the air and electrical lines connected. The dozer has no power of its own, using the air from the pusher engines to power the wings and blades as well as drawing electricity from the locomotives.
Having returned to the secton house, the dozer crew continues to prepare the plow for the day's work while they wait for the line to reopen. Working in a cold, miserable combination of rain, snow and sleet, workers release the safety chains that keep the nose blades locked in the travel position. Meantime, Weeks and Sawyer look over their running orders to Scenic.
Highball Skykomish
The passage of a very late westbound Empire Builder is the signal that the line east is finally open. The plow crew climbs aboard. With a green light on the main at East Skykomish, the dozer heads out, passing the stack train that has long since gone dead on hours.
Let the Snow Fly
Cruising into Scenic with just the nose blades down, a reluctant dispatcher puts the dozer on the siding. In the clear they wait for the passage of an eastbound "Z" before they can begin their work in earnest.
With the nose blade down and the nose wings extended, the plow makes its first pass. On the siding, they keep the speed down, throwing some snow onto the adjoining bank as well as a large amount over onto the mainline.
With the second pass, all hell breaks loose. Out on the welded, stable rail of the mainline, the plow is doing "track speed plus". The blades are picking up all of the snow piled on the mainline from the previous pass, and throwing it clear of both tracks.
A final pass up the mainline has the large side wing out, cutting back the banks. Not nearly as spectacular as the speed plowing, the dozer is moved along at a mere 10 -15 mph allowing the heavy wing to bulldoze the compacted accumulations away from the tracks.
Calling Her a Day
It's getting dark as the crew brings the dozer up the siding on their last pass of the day. With the close proximity of the power lines, care has to be taken not to push the snow too hard against the poles.
Done for the day, the boys fold the big wing and chain it up for the trip back downgrade to Skykomish.
All's Clear
An eastbound empty grain train smashes through a small mound of snow left by the dozer when the nose was lifted to clear the Scenic road crossing. It is the first significant snow on the tracks encountered by the train on its trip up the snowy west slope of the pass. A section crew with chain saws and a group of men on the snow dozer have made this a business as usual trip for the crew. The storm has hit and passed, all's clear....for now.
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