Wind, Brutal Cold May Hinder Blazing Oil Train Cleanup

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
January 1, 2014; 5:03 AM ET
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Around 2:10 p.m. CST Monday, a mile-long oil train derailed and caught fire near Casselton, N.D., according to Reuters.

The train was transporting crude oil and as a result of the crash, some of the cars went ablaze and then exploded, sending plumes of smoke into the air.

Due to the crude oil aboard the train, the fires will have to burn out on their own but winds late tonight and into tomorrow morning could further fuel the fires, instigate the smoke and inhibit cleanup afterwards.

"Wind will blow smoke from the northwest to the southeast tonight and then north to south tomorrow," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.

While winds can shift direction, it is not likely that the smoke will make its way into Fargo.

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However, a temperature inversion could develop late this evening, that would trap the smoke low to the ground.

A temperature inversion happens when there is cold air at ground level and warm air above it. The warm air near the ground, the smoke in this instance, then tries to rise and hits the already warm ceiling and can not rise anymore. As a result, the smoke will be trapped low to the ground.

This could cause low-lying smoke to remain in the areas surrounding the crash and as a result, increase health risks to anyone in the area.

A fireball goes up at the site of an oil train derailment Monday, Dec 30, 2013, in Casselton, N.D. (AP Photo/Bruce Crummy)

The small town about 25 miles due west of Fargo, N.D., has now been evacuated for precautionary measure, according to an Associated Press article.

No injuries have yet been reported, but due to the thick smoke rising from the scene, residents in the surrounding areas have been advised to stay inside.

The Red Cross chapter of the Dakotas announced Monday afternoon that it would open a shelter at the Discovery Middle School in Fargo for residents evacuating the area.

The area's brutal cold could also foil cleanup efforts after the blaze burns out. Temperatures Monday night will plummet down to 20 plus degrees below zero.

Frigid cold will not subside into the town until Friday, as temperatures are expected to stay below zero during the daytime hours through Thursday.

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