Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

January 11, 2008

Pet Peeve #722: "It sounded like a train"

OK people, I have to confess, one of my major league pet peeves is when someone describes the sound of a natural disaster, ANY natural disaster, as sounding "like a train". Obviously these people have never actually heard a train.

We had a small tornado down in Vancouver yesterday. Did a lot of property damage, but no one was hurt. It was small, F0/F1, but still, while even I have seen a funnel cloud in Washington, it's exceedingly rare for there to be actual touchdown.

Today, I was listening to the Morning Show on KZOK (, and they interviewed a woman who was near enough to the action that she could describe it for them. They asked her what it was like:

Her: "Well,"


Her: " sounded like a train!"


Seriously!!!! Natural disasters do not sound like trains! And I should know, I've been through enough of them! I'm sorry, but tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, earthquakes, mudslides, wind storms, heavy rain, flooding, locusts, frogs.....DON'T FUCKING SOUND LIKE TRAINS!

I grew up across the street from railroad tracks. The only way my family ever traveled was by train b/c my mom won't get on an airplane. I've been around trains my entire life. And in all of my 43 years of hurricanes, earthquakes, rain, blizzards, Nor'easters and west coast wind storms, I never, EVER would describe any of them as sounding like trains. For one thing, storms don't clickety-clack. There are no bells. No whistles. The 1989 SF quake sounded like a pile-driver. Wind - be it from a tornado, hurricane or Nor'easter - makes a "whooshing" sound. Sometimes if you have drafty windows, the wind will sound like a high pitched scream, like it did in the house in which I grew up. I will concede that when you stand near the tracks and a train passes by, there is a contant humming vibration, but it doesn't sound like an earthquake or wind.

Maybe next time I see a train, I'll tell people, "Wow! I was in Puyallup when the Amtrak train went by and WOW! It sounded just like a mudslide!"


  1. I guess it's people's way of making sense of it. Apparently that's why they always say new things taste like chicken.

    We get a lot of "It was like a battlefield"s here.

  2. I love the sound of trains, I fall asleep to trains every night. I HATE the sound a tornado makes, I don't know how to describe it, but it's nothing like a train.

  3. Anonymous2:25 PM

    Now see, when we had a small earthquake (in the UK, this is thankfully very rare), the sound I could most liken it to was that large thing that runs on tracks. Sorry ;0)

  4. Kristy3:38 PM

    The thing that really pets my peeve is people who use the word "literally" when they don't mean "literally." As in, "She nagged me so much that my head literally exploded." Dude. Figure it out.

  5. Kristy - I know what you mean. That literally goes up my ass a mile. lol ;D sorry, couldn't resist!!!

  6. The only things that sound like trains besides trains are Johnny Cash songs!

    Funny post. :)

  7. trains? that's just dumb.
    people are so unimaginative sometimes. The '89 quake sounded like an unearthly roar, to me. then screams and sirens and fire sprinklers.

  8. Lizzzard8:49 PM

    'round here we'd say,"It sounded like the snow plow".;) The first one each season sends me right out of bed!

  9. Lizzzard8:51 PM

    By the way, is this literally pet peeve 722 and can you send us the list of the previous 721 so we'll know them? ;) Sorry, I
    couldn't resist!

  10. I saw a train wreck once and I swear it sounded just like a tsunami.

  11. Joe - ROTFLMAO!!!

  12. We lived near railroad tracks as well,so did my Grandmother,so the sound of a train whistle or just a train moving through was very comforting to me.

    I have been in a tornado and NO,they don't sound like trains.It is like a screech from the bowels of THAT more imaginative?;)