26 August 2011

My earthquake timeline

(All times EDT)

1:51PM: 5.8 earthquake centered near Mineral, Virginia shook most of the eastern seaboard from the Carolinas to New England. I was working in Washington, DC, on the fourth floor of my building. Light rumbling for the first 15 seconds or so, then got progressively stronger. My Twitter feed lit up: "Earthquake!" Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Bristol, CT...

~2:00PM: Building evacuated. Thousands of people standing on the sidewalks and streets on Connecticut Avenue. AT&T service was almost null. Reviewing both of our phones, I found that most of my text messages got to Tracy within a minute or two, but I didn't get any replies for almost 30 minutes.

~2:30PM: Allowed back into the building. WMATA announced 15MPH restrictions and delays on the Metro. Union Station announced as closed, MARC service suspended. The Washington Monument was reported as tilting (later found out there were cracks found; haven't heard any evidence of tilting since).

3:10PM: Packed up and left the office. Hearing that Union Station reopened and MARC is resuming service with delays.

3:23PM: Farragut North station is filling up fast! Next train was at least 15 minutes away and in that time the station got packed! PID arrival times seemed to be based on normal speeds, not 15MPH. PID occasionally showed "No delay." Seriously! It took until the third train around 4:00PM before I was able to get on a train. No surprise, it was totally packed.

~4:25PM: Arrived at Union Station (my usual MARC train leaves at 4:20PM). Four Metro stops that usually take less than 10 minutes took more like 25 minutes. The MARC schedule was confusing. The platforms for the 4:10 departure (which skips BWI) and my 4:20 depature (which stops at BWI) were both apparently closed; I figure the best bet was the 4:40 departure. As soon as I got to that gate, they announced that the 4:25 departure was still open. I wasn't sure what stops the 4:25 made (hindsight: it's another express train that skips BWI), but the Amtrak conductors (filling in for the MARC conductors) announced that the train would indeed stop at BWI (reasonable considering everything was delayed).

5:02PM: The 4:25 departure finally left Union Station...at 15MPH. The trip was painfully slow. It took almost 30 minutes to get to New Carrollton (normal time: 10 minutes). The Amtrak crew was switched out with a MARC crew, and we spent at least 10 minutes sitting there.

5:35PM: Finally moving again...at 15MPH.

6:06PM: After finally speeding up between Bowie State and Odenton, the train stopped between Odenton and BWI. Waiting, again.

~6:10PM: The train stayed on the center track and blew through BWI. But didn't you guys say you would stop at BWI? Oh wait, those Amtrak guys got off at New Carrollton. Ugh.

6:19PM: Arrived at Penn Station. Considering options: 1) Call Tracy for ride from Penn Station (bad idea; traffic and city driving). 2) light rail to Cromwell, have Tracy pick me up there and drive me to BWI (buying light rail tickets in a rush is not an easy thing to do). 3) investigate next train going south (win!). All the trains are showing delayed, but they announcd a southbound MARC about to depart. I climbed on a mostly empty train and waited...again.

~6:45PM: Departed Penn Station.

6:47PM: Train stopped, delayed again.

7:18PM: Arrived at BWI MARC/Amtrak station.

7:40PM: Home! Finally.

4 1/2 hours: the commute from Hell. :-)
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