Monday, 21 May, 2001

Wind Breaks Tree

We got a good taste of Central Texas weather last night.  A huge thunderstorm came out of the northwest about 9:30, carrying baseball sized hail, 60 MPH winds, heavy rain, and some reported funnel clouds (although thankfully no tornadoes touched down).  We were fortunate enough not to get any of the big hail, but we got plenty of rain and the wind did some damage.  It tore shingles from the house, the garage, and the pool house, scattered debris all over the yard, and tore a foot-thick limb from one of our oak trees.  That broken branch made up about a third of the tree's upper canopy.  The image at the left shows the tree from the front, where you can see the hole that's left in the tree's canopy.  The image on the right is from the back, where you get a better idea of the size of the limb.

All told, we were fortunate.  At least a half dozen large trees in the neighborhood simply fell over in the wind.  That's not surprising, as the bedrock in some places is just a few feet under the soil.  Most trees can't sink a tap root in this ground.  Instead, many small shallow roots spread out over a large area.  It's stable enough in normal conditions, but sustained 60 MPH winds with higher gusts will rip a tree right out of the ground.  One of our neighbors had to start the chainsaw at 6:30 this morning to clear a path out of his driveway.  I, too, got to start the chainsaw (as I'm fond of saying, "any day you get to start the chainsaw is a good day").  The larger pieces are now a pile of firewood, and the smaller limbs are ready for the mulcher.