August 17, 2022

It started raining early this morning and continued through about 9:00 am.  When I looked at my weather app it noted the rains would cease around 9, and then resume around 1:00 pm.  That gave us a great window to get in our walk in between the storms and while the temperatures were still relatively low (70’sF/20’sC).  I had not expected or heard any wind last night, but I rarely hear anything when I am sleeping.  About the only thing that wakes me up is when Zena licks my hand or feet wanting to be let outside.  When we got to the corner of our cul-de-sac, there was a large tree limb about 1 foot (30 cm) across that had blown down during the night.  The debris indicated it had landed in the street, but when we arrived it had already been pulled into the yard and out of the way.  It appeared the storm brought at least one strong gust of wind.

When I looked online, I found the National Weather Service definition for a wind gust is “a sudden, brief increase in speed of the wind.”  Gusts are reported when the peak wind speed reaches at least 18 mph (16 knots) and the variation in wind speed between the peaks and the lulls is at least 10 mph (9 knots).  The duration of a gust is usually less than 20 seconds.  According to the Beaufort Wind Scale, at 19 to 24 mph (16.5 to 21 knots) smaller trees will begin to sway.  At 25 to 31 mph (21.5 knots to 27 knots) large branches will be in motion, whistling will be heard in overhead wires, and umbrellas may become tough to use.  At 32 to 38 mph (28 to 33 knots) whole trees will be in motion and you will experience some difficulty walking into the wind.  At 39 to 46 mph (34 to 40 knots) branches and limbs can be broken from trees and cars or high profile vehicles can possibly veer on the road.  At 47 to 54 mph (41 to 47 knots) light structural damage will occur.  At 55 to 63 mph (48 to 54.5 knots) entire trees can be uprooted and considerable structural damage can occur.  When the gust exceeds 64 mph (55.5 knots) you can expect widespread structural damage.  That suggests our gust was around 45 mph (39 Knots).

Two years ago, I had written about the gust of wind that had taken down a tree in the back of our lot.  This gust had come from the northeast and had torn a large oak tree up by its root ball.  That suggests the gust was around 50 mph (44 knots).  Luckily, the tree had fallen away from the shed that Melissa had built at the back of our property to serve as a workshop for her dad.  The storm that came in last night was from the northwest, so I assume the gust that snapped the branch was from the same direction.  That suggests the branch had fallen against the storm and into the street.  There are usually several vehicles parked in the drive and along the street where the debris indicated the branch had come down.  They were all gone this morning.  Hopefully, they were not damaged.

THOUGHTS:  When I worked for the camp in Kansas, we had a storm that brought down several trees on the acreage.  While most of the trees fell away from the buildings, one large gust had dropped an old cottonwood onto the side of the main hotel.  We had the insurance adjuster assess the damage (it did not cover deductible) and then cut the tree away from the building.  While I had help with the initial task of cutting the tree back, after that first day I was on my own.  That was when I realized one of my “other duties as assigned” was removing dead trees from the property.  Most jobs have hidden tasks that need to be completed.  There seem to be two approaches toward these extra duties.  We can say it is not in my job description, or we can do what needs to be done.  We are rarely able to move forward until someone completes the unwanted task faced, regardless of whether it was their job.  That is also true with the social ills faced by our country and world.  We are all the “someone” who needs to step up with a gust of fresh air.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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