Monday, February 06, 2006

Wind and Winter

Semi-winter weather has returned to the mountain. I saw snow flurries this morning, Saturday night winter blew in (again!) with a vengeance. It was just after dark, and I was in the cabin with the dogs. It had been raining for a bit, but suddenly the wind picked up and kept picking up. Rain came down so hard it rattled the windows, and I thought it was sleet at first. Then I felt the familiar vibration in the cabin that means a tree has fallen somewhere nearby. That was followed by a branch crashing against a window and the sound of the wind growing even more extreme. I was starting to think about heading down into the utility basement. I turned on the weather radio which indicated the winds were to be 25-35 mph. Well, I knew this was a whole lot stronger than 25-35 mph. But about this time, the storm started to ease, and in 15 minutes it was back to being just a normal storm with a lot of rain and heavier than normal wind.

People often ask me if I’m afraid to live out in the woods where I do, and my answer is “no.” Most who ask me this question are really asking “aren’t you afraid someone will attack you?” Or sometimes “don’t you worry about fire?” Or sometimes it’s “being stuck out there during a bad winter” or “what if you’re injured and no one knows you’re out there?” The list goes on and on.

Funny, but no one ever mentions wind. And while most of those other things are just people’s own fears talking and not based in much, if any reality, the one thing that comes closest to scaring me is wind. Sometimes I worry that some giant tree will fall on the house and destroy it and/or me. I have to tell you that this worry isn’t nearly enough to keep me from living in the woods. But it tends to surface every time I get a strong wind storm, at least during those minutes when the wind is at its most extreme.

So far I’ve had one tree fall on the back deck (doing minimal damage). I’ve had 3 very large trees fall very near the house during storms (and felt that vibration when they hit the ground). Those trees would have done major damage if they’d hit the cabin. I currently have one smallish tree that’s fallen but was caught by its neighbor. It’s leaning over the driveway and would hit the parked car if it completes its fall. It’s stayed there during 50 mph winds, though, so it should continue to stay there until spring when I can get it removed. I’ve had trees fall on the electric lines back where they cut through the woods and knock out the electricity for almost a week. But so far I’ve been lucky. Compared to wind, the other fears seem fairly minimal or manageable. (Except for the mother of all ice storms, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Note: this morning I heard that on Saturday night about 10-12 miles south of me the roof was blown off a hotel and damaged multiple cars in the parking lot. That wind was pegged at 70 mph. I’m guessing the wind I had during the storm was at least in the 50-60 mph range.

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