Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting trucking, transportation and weather. This week features a funnel spawned by a wildfire, a trucker who drove his rig into a river and a train honoring the armed forces.


A fire whirl popped up in far northern California on June 29 as crews tried to contain a wildfire. Heat produced by wildfires can be so intense it creates a locally strong updraft and rotation, leading to what some call a “firenado.”

Here is a video of a fire whirl from the #TennantFire on June 29th. After a survey from the IMET, this was likely the rotation our radar was picking up on the 29th. Credit to the US Forest Service for taking this video. #CAwx #fire #fireseason pic.twitter.com/MMQLguZAZR

— NWS Medford (@NWSMedford) July 7, 2021

This one spawned from the Tennant Fire in an area where air temperatures were abnormally high for late June, hovering around 100 degrees. As of Thursday morning, the fire covered about 10,580 acres and was 81% contained, according to InciWeb. A report from The Siskiyou Daily News said the cause of the Tennant Fire is still under investigation, but it may have been started by a car fire, according to scanner traffic.


A trucker accidentally ran off a road in central Washington on July 1, ending up in the Columbia River. It happened shortly after 1 a.m. north of Orondo. The driver, 71-year-old Conda Reddy, was heading north on U.S. Highway 97, according to the Washington State Patrol. For unknown reasons, the truck veered off the highway, crashed through a guardrail, then went down an embankment into the river.

Reddy survived, was able to get out of the cab of the truck and was climbing the river bank when rescue crews arrived on scene. First responders took him to a nearby hospital. The Orondo Fire Department reported that “the semi-tractor was entirely submerged in the river,” while the trailer was only “partially submerged.” The Washington State Patrol (WSP) said the trailer was empty when the crash occurred as Reddy was reportedly en route to pick up a load of fruit in Brewster, Washington, about 50 miles to the north.

The WSP told FreightWaves the tractor was pulled from the water the day of the accident, but the trailer floated down river and was recovered the next day. The WSP also said the driver was released from the hospital after a medical evaluation.

Elsa can’t let it go

Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall between Horseshoe Beach and Cedar Key, Florida, late Wednesday morning. The storm fluctuated in strength along its path from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico, becoming a hurricane at two different points.

Related: Tropical Storm Elsa kills 1 in Florida, injures several others

TS Elsa is unleashing devastating conditions across Cedar Key, FL. This definitely does not look like a tropical storm. #Elsa pic.twitter.com/boHVgNsYEA

— Evan J. WX (@evanjameswx) July 7, 2021

This video shows Elsa’s strong winds and sideways rain about three hours before landfall, with street signs swaying. Closer to landfall around 11 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center received an unofficial report of a 62-mph sustained wind at Horseshoe Beach, with a gust of 71 mph. Unfortunately Elsa hasn’t “let it go” yet. (See the “Frozen” reference there?) The storm triggered flood and tornado warnings Thursday in parts of the Carolinas and will track through the Northeast Friday.

Stars and Stripes

A Union Pacific (UP) train showed off its patriotic paint job over the long July Fourth weekend. Named The Spirit, train No. 1943 is the 16th commemorative locomotive to be introduced in the history of the 155-year-old company. It was named for a Boeing B-17, christened Spirit of the Union Pacific in 1943, recognizing the employees who funded it through war bond contributions. The B-17 was shot down during World War II.

#UP1943 “The Spirit” rolls through UP’s Tucson Yard. Thanks to Robert Lopez, utility clerk, Tucson, Arizona, for the great photo! pic.twitter.com/YDs2bh8L39

— Union Pacific (@UnionPacific) July 5, 2021

The Spirit was unveiled in October 2017 at San Antonio’s Sunset Station and pays tribute to the U.S. armed forces. Created in collaboration with UP veterans, the locomotive illustrates the railroad’s connection to the thousands of veterans who helped build America through the centuries.

Every detail in The Spirit’s trade dress incorporates a piece of each armed forces branch, from Air Force silver and camouflage coloring, to military-style block lettering and numbering.

As the train passes by, the final message on the tail features the POW/MIA motto, You Are Not Forgotten.

Old Man Winter hanging on

As we move through the dog days of summer, it still looks like winter in some parts of America. Columbine Lake in southwestern Colorado remained partially frozen during the Independence Day weekend. But there’s a good reason for this — the lake is about 12,600 feet above sea level in the San Juan Mountains, which are part of the Rockies.

Partially frozen Columbine Lake (12600’) in the San Juan Mountains pic.twitter.com/YbjggT3hTG

— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 3, 2021

Also, the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, gave FreightWaves a few other reasons why this area hasn’t totally thawed: big winter snow accumulations in the Colorado Rockies that can take a long time to melt; a north-facing slope away from the sun; and a dry spring, allowing very low overnight temperatures to persist. The NWS said more melting should occur in the coming days.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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