Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Better Late Than Never...

This is old news now, but we had an epic storm last week. I am late to the party, but it is better to be late than never. My cousins and my mom have already written about the storm that covered much of Wyoming and South Dakota. It is heartbreaking to lose so many trees. They are valuable to us, since we have to work so hard to get them to grow and thrive here. The loss of livestock is also terrible, with thousands of cattle and horses killed in the storm. I'm sure there were wild animals lost as well. So much devastation.

We had 17-18 inches of snow and stiff winds, but worst of all were all the downed trees. The leaves had just barely started to turn on a few trees, but most were still green. Too much snow and too much wind means lots and lots of broken branches. One tree in our neighborhood has not one single branch left! It was a mature tree, at least 30 years old. Now it is a 20 foot tall stump.

Thankfully, Chad had done a major trimming of the cottonwood tree behind our back fence in May. Check out some photos of that project here. He was concerned we'd get a snowstorm like the one we just did, and he was worried about branches taking out the neighbors' fences as well as damaging our property. We had a storm in  early October, 2009 that left about 6 inches of snow, and limbs from our tree took out our power and cable lines. Chad wanted to try and stop a repeat performance. It didn't quite stop all the limbs from coming down this time, but I'm sure the damage would have been much more extensive had he not had the foresight to get the tree trimming done.

I heard the first crash at 4:00 a.m. on Friday, October 4th. I got up and looked outside, groaned when I saw about 8-10 inches of snow on the ground, and that our neighbor's tree had just lost some large limbs. I also saw that our lines were covered with a lot of snow and sagging, so I was putting my coat and shoes on to go clean them off. I didn't even get to the door when there was a very loud crash and the entire house shook.

This is why:

See how hard it's snowing? Usually when I take pictures while it's snowing, the flakes barely show up. Here they just look like a lot of white streaks.

I have no idea how that branch managed to get hung up there and didn't bring the power lines down. It did bring our cable down, so no land line phone or internet for us, and pulled the line down that powers the streetlight in front of the house. A very long branch, it was dangling clear over the neighbor's fence, and a piece of it snagged on their cable line. Chad had to get out the chainsaw to remove this limb, and others around the neighborhood were already running theirs. It was a very rude and early morning for a lot of people!

While we were clearing that branch, another was sagging onto the main electrical line. It began to arc, and soon there were a lot of sparks and some flames. Fortunately, the city electrical crew was already in our alley working on another downed line, so they came over and cut down the burning branch.

Not exactly in focus, but you can see the bright flames with the power line running underneath.

Right after the crew took care of our burning limb, there was a crack, crash, bright flash, and very loud bang as a limb came down right on the transformer next door. And we were without power for rest of the day.

It was a long, cold day, with many, many more branches coming down all over town. As we got out to start cleaning up the next day, Megan said it best: "Who dropped the nuke?" It looked exactly like a bomb had gone off.

So, here are some pictures from around our yard and neighborhood on Saturday, October 5th.

Our windmill.

Neighbor's spruce tree.

Megan making a "snow starfish" in the front yard.

Limbs exactly as they fell in a neighbor's yard.

A bird landed in the deep snow of the front yard and left cool impressions. From the size of the marks, I think it must have been a dove.

Megan's snow angel in the back yard.