3/15/2012

Strong Winds Topple Trees

80 year old Islander clearing his driveway after Monday's wind storm, photo:TimesColonist
Vancouver Island's big trees have few threats as potentially life-ending as a wicked winter wind, and Monday's maelstrom proved to be the end for many. Tall trees shallowly rooted are constantly in danger from a stiff breeze, but are especially vulnerable in strong winds such as in Monday's storm.

During southeast winds the inside coast of Vancouver Island, including Victoria, gets hit the hardest. The highest winds were recorded across the Strait of Georgia along the Sunshine Coast at 187 km per hour. Powell River logged top gusts of up to 111 km per hour, and Victoria around 95 km.

Over 100,000 homes lost power in the storm, and most of those outages were caused by trees falling on power lines. As a matter of fact, most of the problems associated with the storm were tree-related with big conifers falling on power lines, roads, houses and vehicles.

Truck crushed by wind-tossed big tree, photo: TimesColonist
Three men driving on Ardmore Drive near Victoria Monday morning were prevented from proceeding by a large tree across the road. After getting out of their truck to survey the area, a second tree fell and crushed their vehicle.

Tree: 1, Van: 0, photo: CTV

Monday's storm reminded many of the whopper winds that occurred on December 15th, 2006. That storm was one of the worst since the 1960s, and knocked down about 41 acres of trees in Vancouver's Stanley Park, as well as thousands of trees along Vancouver Island's West Coast Trail.

The difference between the two storms was that the 2006 storm was out of the west rather than a southeaster like Monday. Sooke was hard hit in 2006s west gales, but was little affected by the southeaster Monday. Because of that, the power stayed on, and I have not seen any trees down in the area.

However, any time the wind blows, I tend to be aware of the trees swaying around me.

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