Posted by: Jack | December 16, 2006

In the Wake of a Wind Storm

Last night I posted very late during a crazy wind and rain storm that was knocking out power all over town due to lightning, fallen trees and floods. This morning we awoke to bright blue skies and a tattered Olympia. Our parking lot, and every street in town for that matter, was absolutely buried under branches of various coniferous trees. Large limbs were hanging from nieghbors roofs and balconies.

Wishing to take advantage of the lately unseen sun, we hopped in the car and headed South for a state park rumored to have nice hiking trails. We started off towards the post office to pick up some stamps and quickly ran into an immense traffic jam. Ten minutes and a ¼ mile later we found that the traffic lights above the largest intersection on the West side were without power. In their place, a traffic cop was doing his best to keep things moving along. Much, much later we were approaching the state park and saw this (click images for larger size):

This tree had taken out the first couple power lines it connected with but came to a rest on the last two remaining. After cautiously driving around this looming obstruction we arrived at our destination greeted by a large sign saying the park is closed for safety reasons. We happened to run into a park ranger who told us that the trails were unpassable due to fallen trees. Heading back the other way we found signs for a trail we had not heard of before and made that our new destination. Weaving from lane to lane to dodge one tree after another we soon passed this unfortunate scene:

The trailhead we were looking for was right next to this home and turning onto the park driveway we immediately ran into a slight detterent:

Further discouraged we turned around and sought out another trail. After touring some new rural neighborhoods and chasing a stunningly bright rainbow, we gave up on finding a new trail and decided that a single tree was not going to prevent us from getting a good hike in today. We went back to the trailhead with the blocked road, parked the car and walked in from there.

We encountered countless trees fallen over this road and eventually found the trail. Within minutes we began to witness the true power of wind. Enormous trees like the one below were uprooted often ripping up the asphalt path we were following. This picture is very dark but for a size reference in the larger image you can make out Anna’s head poking out over the root mass.

The trail we were on is named Mima Mounds and as it left the woods we had our first glimpse of what a mima mound is. We also were welcomed into the open by a flash hail storm. It’s truly hard to believe but these mounds are natural glacial formations that were quite common in this area. However most of them have been leveled for development purposes by now. I snapped this photo as the sun was setting after we traversed a two mile loop winding back and forth through this extensive mound field.

After returning home we checked the news and found that aside from all the infrastructue devastation, three people had died as a result of trees falling onto or in front of their cars. We also read that hundreds of teams have been working since early morning to restore power and clear the roads but the end is no where in sight.

In a part of the country that is supposed to have very moderate seasons and weather, we have seen extreme heat, snow, sleet, hail, torrential rain, flooding, lightning and destructive wind in only six months time. I do have to admit that I enjoy it though. It’s very interesting to witness the world you live in falling victim to the indiscriminate forces of nature.

Late edit: Forgot to mention that ever since the wind shredded every tree in the area, the entire city has smelled like fresh pine.

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