Gardening where the sidewalk ends

The Ravages of Wind December 2, 2009

Filed under: trees,weather — greenwalks @ 1:12 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago, Seattle was ripped by a series of powerful wind storms. Still nothing to match our legendary Hanukkah Eve blowout of 2006, when everything from telephone poles to Douglas firs went belly-up overnight, but still some pretty strong gusts that knocked out power and did some damage to the unsteadier trees.

Just up my street, this one met its end:

Wind-snapped tree

The trunk just snapped off, luckily missing any humans or property. I’m not sure what kind of tree it is, or if it’s on the city’s list for approved parking strip trees. If anyone has a guess, please speak forth. It was planted in a group, which is often the MO for street trees that come free from the city.

Another breakage point, showing the leaves closer up for you ID experts:

Broken-off limb

Bark detail – does it look like the inside of the trunk was diseased?

Shattered trunk

Poor thing. I always mourn the death of a tree. I’m glad nobody was hurt – this would have made a pretty big dent in anyone’s head:

Big limb down

One unlucky fellow did lose his life during this set of storms. He was just out with his wife, walking their dog, when a big limb in a local park came down and that was it. I admit I’m a chicken – when the winds start to blow, I make a dash for the house and try to stay in until it’s all over. I try not to look at our big cedar too closely, although I’ve heard they tend to be pretty good at staying upright.

I will be curious to see what, if anything, is chosen to replace the poor broken tree on my street. If it were me, I’d go for something different!

(For those curious about Seattle parking strip tree planting procedures, permits, and lists of approved street trees, click here.)


10 Responses to “The Ravages of Wind”

  1. Bonnie Story Says:

    Hi!! To me that looks like a member of the Ficus family – that’s just a guess. Poor tree. City trees really get put though the wringer.

    Aside: About my pickled beets – I’ll bring some to a SAGBUTT meeting in the Spring and you can try them. They are so good – I could eat a pint a day and I have to remind myself not to tear through my supply. We made a huge batch but I know I’ll be ready for more next Fall. Will be fun to share them!!! Cheers, Bonnie

  2. mdvaden Says:

    You know what that tree reminds me of, without being able to see it in person …. a flowering pear.

    There is a slight serration to the leaf margin, and they are notorious for being brittle, and loaded with weak limb unions.

    Its surprising that many cities still keep even the improved varieties on their tree lists. The new varieties still have the brittle aspect.

    MDV / Oregon

  3. Tatyana Says:

    I remember well that storm in 2006. Several days without electricity. What will this winter bring?

  4. Grace Says:

    Hi Karen~~ The foliage is still so green and although it is nice it probably contributed to the wind resistence. I, too always hate to see the demise of a tree. Last spring bulldozers removed several by our high school. Just hearing the limbs crack made me want to run out and yell at the evil bulldozer operator. Never mind if he was just doing his job, he’s evil.

    For reasons only God knows, the 2006 storm bypassed us. In Sweet Home, about 20 miles away, my friend was in the midst of it. She said the sound of the wind was ominous. Stuff was flying all over…

    I hope the neighbors will plant a replacement tree. There are so many smaller beauties and we can always use more oxygen.

    Are you tired of hearing about Tiger Woods? [Sorry. Just had to rant a bit.]

  5. Catherine Says:

    Poor tree. That storm in 2006 was awful, we lost many shingles from our roof as well as power for days. I can’t look at the big Cedars by us either. Let’s hope this winter will be much nicer to us.
    Hope you’re all feeling better there too!

  6. RainGardener Says:

    Was that the one during hunting season? Bob was gone and I heard horrible noises of things flying and hitting the house and roof all night long. It was scary being here alone. The Innagural Day storm years before that was worse and 2 trees uprooted at the same time and landed on our house. Another scary one.

  7. What a sad story you threw in there!

    We have a couple enormous Fir trees behind our house that
    I can lie in bed and watch dance in the wind, it s beautiful and scary. A couple of weeks ago (maybe the same storm?) they were moving like I had never seen them before. I try not to think about how the recent construction around them on the lot behind us (new McMansions) might have compromised their roots. Too scary.

  8. Lu Says:

    I really get a hoot thinking about you must climb around on parking strips to get these close-ups of trees. It has inspired me to pay more attention to the things growing in my own neighborhood. A few times I have taken my camera along and received some interested looks from other people in the area. “Why is she photographing my basil?” they must wonder.

  9. Megan Says:

    Poor tree. I’m curious about those black spots in the remaining trunk. I wonder if had previously suffered some damage. Someone else’s blog recently showed a tree they suspected had been struck by lightning and died. When they cut it down the entire inside was charred. The secret lives of trees.
    Hope your cedar stays in place. Its somewhat reassuring to know that so many of us worry about the big trees surrounding us. My neighbors’ poorly maintained curly willow has a huge branch that overhangs my bedroom dormer, it has me considering relocating my bed if we get wind or ice. It’s always such a shock to realize the power of nature in those storms.

  10. gardenmentor Says:

    It does look a bit like an ornamental pear, and as mentioned above, they are notorious for breaking in cold and wind. They just hold their leaves way too late for cold climates. Did you see any fruit? The ornamental ones usually look like tiny asian pears.

    I’m not sure from the photos, but black fungal issues on the interior could be armillaria string fungus. I lost a specimen Pieris to it years ago and the dang honey mushrooms keep coming back. It’s part of the natural decomp cycle, but it will go after the living stuff too. You can read more about this awful fungus here

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