Thursday, June 2, 2016

That's a lot of weather to be immune to

I'm still getting a handle on all the problems with the coverage of the Hyperloop, trying to stake out the boundaries of the journalistic toxic spill by posting items that might be relevant, such as the weather conditions a massive, high tech, precision-built infrastructure project would encounter connecting Sylmar and Hayward.

In the initial proposal for the system, Elon Musk said the Hyperloop would be "immune to weather." Presumably this also means resistant to weathering over what Musk assures us will be decades of service. We are talking about a track built to tight tolerances suspended on pylons ranging from 20 to 100 feet tall. It may be too early in the conversation to go into things like material fatigue but it is at least worth noting that the stretch of the 5 north of Sylmar is subject to some fairly extreme conditions.

Pretty much every year, we get stories like this [emphasis added]:

Interstate 5 Along Grapevine Closed Due to Ice, Wind, Snow
By Jonathan Lloyd

A section of the 5 Freeway north of Los Angeles is closed Monday morning due to potentially dangerous travel conditions caused by ice, wind and snow.


The snow level is expected to descend to between 2,000 and 2,500 feet this morning, [the elevation of the Tejon Pass is over 4,000 feet -- MP] with moderate snowfall expected on north slopes in the San Gabriels and in the northwestern corner of the Antelope Valley. Up to eight inches could accumulate in the northwest foothills in the Antelope Valley, and between three and seven inches could pile up on the 5 Freeway near Gorman and The Grapevine amid icy conditions and winds blowing at between 25 and 40 miles per hour and gusting at 60 mph.

There was no estimate when the freeway would be reopened


Dangerous driving conditions are also expected in the Antelope Valley, including on Pearblossom (SR 138) Highway, amid snowfall and winds of between 30 and 45 mph, gusting to 65 mph, it said.

These are, of course, surmountable engineering problems, but we're not hearing a lot from the proponents of the system that suggests they've even started to address them.

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