Tag Archive | tornado

Tornado Takes Down Giant White Oak

After the latest tornado to roll through, I have been out looking at logs to pickup. I ran across this White Oak not far from my sawmill that was listed on Craigslist for free firewood. I could tell even from a blurry, out-of-focus photo that it was giant and needed to see just how big. It is 52″ in diameter about 8′ from the base and one of the two biggest White Oaks I have run into (the other is actually a Burr Oak, but it is in the White Oak family. Click here to check it out). Unfortunately, it was hollow all the way up, but I still had to get a photo. Good luck to the kids that want to firewood that one!

Click on any photo to get a closer look:

Hazelwood Tornado Hits Home (My Old One)

It feels like Deja Vu all over again. After spending weeks cleaning up from the last tornado that hit North County in 2010 and still milling logs from it, I felt right at home when I went to visit our last house in Hazelwood, MO. On April 10 a tornado rolled through town and right across our old street, Woodcrest Lane.

I didn’t know anything about it until later that night because our power was out in our new house in St. Charles. I called my ex-neighbor (Alan Orban) after I heard it hit Hazelwood and asked if there was any damage around him. When I asked, I didn’t realize it went through his yard. He told me about the damage ant that trees were down, but it still wasn’t clear that the tornado went right through our yards.

It became very clear the next morning when I saw the TV news reports and aerial photos that included our houses. It became even more clear when I went by in person and could see the very obvious path that the tornado took right down our driveway and across the street. Most of the big trees that were in the path are down or need to come down, leaving a clear view of the sky that we have never seen. Woodcrest Lane has a nice country lane kind of feel with large trees and, in some cases, lots of trees. It still does, but a section about 5 lots wide (one acre each) is now a lot more wide-open-prairie like.

The damage on the street seems to mostly involve trees and trees that fell on structures, compared to houses being ripped apart from the winds themselves. In a few spots further down the line some roofs were blown off, but no structures where leveled. The tornado was officially classed as an F2 and stayed on the ground for a couple of miles. Amazingly, there were no serious injuries.

After we found out it was a tornado, I was specifically instructed by my boss not to go and get trees. I was told that I have more than enough paying work to keep me busy, and I don’t need to be chasing trees. I agreed, but mostly because I know every tree in the path of the tornado, and there isn’t anything I couldn’t live without.

Here is the channel 5 video:

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Here are the photos that I took during my visit:

Google Satellite Branches Out Into Log Procurement After Tornados

Almost a year ago, a tornado swept through the St. Louis area. After seeing the destruction, I was surprised no one was killed, and at the same time excited to start salvaging trees. I drove around the first day to get a feel for things, following the trail of downed trees and using bright blue tarps that covered damaged roofs as beacons when I started to stray from the path. The first job was to procure trees before they were cut up, so I had to hustle. It didn’t take long to realize that I was going to have a tough time efficiently covering a 10-mile path.

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I went home that night and decided to look at Google maps in satellite view. I love to look at the satellite view normally, but now I had a reason. I imagined I could generally chart the path and pick out spots with the best trees. What I didn’t imagine is how well it helped me out in identifying specific trees. I was very lucky to find that the satellite photos for the area I was most interested in were taken in the early fall. In the early fall the trees are starting to change and they don’t just look like green blobs in the photos.

The ones that stood out the most were walnuts. They lose their leaves early, so in the photos they were bare. The cottonwoods were bare too, but that was it. I could scan the satellite images and find the bare trees, then go see if they were down. All but two that were down were walnuts. I got some walnuts out of the deal, but walnuts didn’t seem to be the most abundant species. As a matter of fact, I only found one block with a heavy concentration of walnuts, but it got me looking.

After closer examination, I realized that I could see the shape of the tree by its shadow on the ground. It told me if it had a long trunk (good for milling) or a short, bushy shape. The shape really helped me identify cherry. Cherry tends to have a wispy top, without much foliage and very little spread. They also tend to have stems with multiple leads. If they were alone in the photos, I could pick out cherry trees from the top. But, if not, and this is totally cool, I could jump down to street view and see the tree like I was driving down the road. This helped me verify that trees were worth looking at when I got calls from friends.

As I was going back to pick the images for this post, I realized that the photos had been updated and that the path of the tornado is visible from distant views. When I realized that, I took a look at Joplin. Wow! In Google, just type in Joplin, MO and click on the map. It looks like they took the photo within weeks of the tornado and the width of the path and the complete destruction is incredible. For contrast, type in Ferguson, MO and realize how much smaller this tornado was, and it was not small. I could have picked up trees all summer.

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