Metro said it will beef up maintenance crews in the transit system Friday and Saturday to ward off possible flooding associated with Hurricane Joaquin. But as of Thursday afternoon, as Metro officials continued to watch the storm’s progress off the East Coast, no decision had been made to change train or bus schedules, spokesman Dan Stessel said.
The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang reported that Joaquin gathered strength Thursday as it moved through the warm ocean water near the Bahamas, becoming a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with top wind speeds of 130 mph. Although its path toward landfall in the eastern United States remains uncertain, the storm is sure to dump large amounts of rain in the Washington region in the next few days.
Stessel said it was too early to predict what steps the transit agency might take if Joaquin becomes an extraordinary weather threat to the nation’s capital.
“We are primarily in a monitoring mode right now until we have a better sense of the storm track,” he said in an e-mail. He said some outdoor work on train tracks might be postponed, but the below-ground work will continue as planned. “Because below-ground work will proceed,” he said, “train schedules for this weekend are not expected to change.”
He said the transit agency’s maintenance department “will have additional personnel deployed on all shifts, monitoring drainage pumping stations and addressing any local flooding. We have 58 drainage pumping stations in the underground system, each capable of pumping 49,000 gallons of water per hour.” He said the extra workers “will ensure that each of these facilities is tested and drains are clear of debris.”
Bus operations managers, meanwhile, have been conducting periodic conference calls about the weather and are “prepared to escalate their response,” Stessel said. But no schedule changes had been made.