Tom's Blog

Monday, May 30, 2016

Serious tree damage (windthrow) from storm 5-28-2016

We finally got the rain we wanted on Saturday afternoon (May 28 2016). Unfortunately, it was accompanied by extremely strong winds that did serious damage to trees at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. Kathie and I spent part of Sunday discovering just what sort of damage took place.

We have a lot of venerable oaks, both bur and white. The wind seemed to affect primarily bur oaks at the west end of the Conservancy, mainly at the top of the hill, although there were also some cherries and several shagbark hickories. The largest hickory at the conservancy came down (see photo here).

Largest hickory along the Mid Savanna Trail lost its whole top, converting this tree into a "snag".
This location is close to a large milkweed clone that provides prime Monarch habitat.
Fortunately, the milkweeds will be unaffected.
Most of the trees were not uprooted, but rather lost their tops. Some of them still retain enough living material to remain alive, but quite a few lost all living branches, remaining standing as snags.

The photos here give little idea of the extent of the damage, although they do show the type of destruction we observed. Kathie's notes, given below, give lots of details.

The gravel road should be clear in a few days, but the rest of the damage will have to wait, as we are in the middle of invasive plant season.

These big branches are from a large black oak that was standing exposed to the full brunt of the wind.
It lost its whole top and was converted into a snag.

The rest of the black oak shown above.
In the background is our prized bur oak, 280 years old.
Fortunately, it stands slightly downhill on the north side and was protected from most of the wind damage.
A small branch was knocked off.
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Kathie's detailed notes

Here are my observations from the big storm that hit at PVC on Saturday, May 28, from about 4 to 5 pm.  Not a happy visit, all in all. But NOTHING we could have done to prevent it.

I will list what I saw in order as I travelled along the roads and lanes:

1. Nothing much in the lower areas, only several smallish branches from the black walnut at the entrance to the Pocket prairie, and a dead walnut down on the other side of the road.

2. Cherry tree down across gravel road between triangle and Unit 20.

3. Tree branch a little farther on, near first bluebird house.

4. Tree broken in 12A, down the hill from about the middle of Toby’s.

5. Giant dead oak in 12A blown down.

6. Can see tree down along mid savanna trail.  More later

7. Can see big branch/tree down in 11 D  ?  More later.

8. East overlook:  Big birch down across trail down to mid-savanna trail. Tore up root ball from E. overlook. Cedar tree blown over, leaning into other cedars.

9. Rocky Overlook:  South firebreak trail—cherry tree down near Rocky overlook.

10. BIG oak down in Unit 10 (along South Fire Break). [This one was uprooted!]

11. Also Unit 10:  Whole top of black oak across from oldest oak down across road.  Knocked relatively small branch off oldest oak. [See photo in this post]

12. Oak in middle of Unit 10 down: was one of two trunks.

13. Unit 8:  one/third of huge oak down. 

14. Unit 19A: small dead oak fell—#2338.

15. Ridge trail. Huge walnut in 19A fell to north—into other trees.  Also big dead birch fell across ridge trail. Also another birch, but not across trail.

16. South Firebreak: Unit 8, going east from Overlook:  2 big branches across firebreak.  Also 2 others nearby. One branch/tree down below that in Unit 5 (9?)

17. Unit 8: Dead walnut trunk leaning heavily into big oak.

18.  South firebreak, from Tom’s Prairie, going East along south firebreak:  2 oaks with branches down.  HUGE bur oak down right ON firebreak—big root ball.  Large basswood down below firebreak. Huge branch or half of oak down in Unit 10 and on firebreak.

19. North firebreak:  west of chairs.  Big oak down.

20.  Mid-savanna Trail  (see note 6 and 7):  small branches on trail.  HUGE hickory (#405) broke off at base. Fell mostly off trail, and just east of the big milkweed patch.

21. Broken tree farther along mid savanna trail. 

See also Kathie's Facebook page for her photos.

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In the post given at this link there is a brief discussion of a straight-line wind called a derecho that happened some years ago. That storm mainly affected already dead black oaks that had been killed by oak wilt.

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June 5, 2016 at 7:52 AM  

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