The pressing question right now

DMZ · December 20, 2008 at 5:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Are heavily snow-laden trees in frozen turf more or less likely to fall down or snap in a windstorm compared to unladen trees in water-saturated turf?


46 Responses to “The pressing question right now”

  1. Mr. Egaas on December 20th, 2008 5:07 pm

    I don’t understand what this has to do with the importance of defense.

  2. xxtinynickxx on December 20th, 2008 5:09 pm

    trees already breaking in Kent, watch out around Fred Myer on James St its freaking going nuts. Many branches and tops of trees already blowing/breaking and falling.

  3. argh on December 20th, 2008 5:34 pm

    If the ground is really frozen deep enough, then the trees typically won’t uproot, although, of course, they’ll drop branches, split, etc. under ice-load. In Seattle with a frost line that only goes inches deep you can have the worst of both worlds: water-soaked soil and iced up trees.

    So, walk in the middle of the street. What could possible go wrong?

  4. seadiv88 on December 20th, 2008 5:44 pm

    Are any shallow-rooted trees located above Silva’s kitchen. . . or favorite restaurant?

  5. drjeff on December 20th, 2008 5:46 pm

    What you REALLY need to watch out for is ice. Every time I’ve had a tree-snapping issue, it has occurred during an ice storm, when the winds got high. The snow doesn’t weigh nearly as much as a good tree full of ice.

    We’ve got a huge pine in our back yard, right across the neighbor’s fence. I’ll think good thoughts for you if you think good thoughts for me.

  6. gag harbor on December 20th, 2008 6:06 pm

    It really depends on the presence of African sparrows and their coconuts doesn’t it?

  7. PositivePaul on December 20th, 2008 6:07 pm

    Soooo glad we don’t have many huge trees ’round our house. There are several in the neighborhood, but the largest ones are far enough away from our house that we should be fine. It’s soooo purrrty, though, with the snow-laden trees and the architecture in our new neighborhood.

  8. MyOhMy on December 20th, 2008 6:21 pm

    Good question for Ichiro.

  9. Marcel on December 20th, 2008 6:23 pm

    I’d worry more about ice. I’ve never seen a tree snap from too much snow, but we here in New England just experienced how much tree-breaking power ice has.

  10. msb on December 20th, 2008 6:31 pm

    a discussion I was having just this morning.

    although (fingers crossed) per UW Atmospheric Sciences prof Cliff Mass’ blog:

    5 PM Update
    It is clear that the snow moved in in a few hours early…not an unusual timing error. A larger error is the easterly winds–which are substantially weaker than forecast by the high resolution models. They have picked up and will pick up further…but if they are weaker than expected that will increase the snow east of the Sound (since there will be less downsloping)

  11. Slurve on December 20th, 2008 6:36 pm

    huh just had to clear the road of a half broken tree just a sapling though.

  12. msb on December 20th, 2008 6:38 pm

    “6 PM…winds started to really increase aloft….and gusts increasing at surface sites.”

    stay warm & dry, everyone.

  13. mwb on December 20th, 2008 6:50 pm

    The Seattle Times has this to say about what’s going to happen tonight:

    The weekend’s stinging windstorm was expected to be the worst to hit Western Washington in years — impacting the area even more than the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm of 2006, said Weather Service Chief Meteorologist Brad Colman.

    I hope they’re wrong about this. The 2006 storm wasn’t fun.

  14. Mid80sRighty on December 20th, 2008 7:13 pm

    Guess I’ll throw out the obligatory “how about that global warming” statement.

  15. argh on December 20th, 2008 7:20 pm

    I miss El Niño.

  16. OppositeField on December 20th, 2008 7:28 pm

    You know, the snow was cute for a night or two, but don’t we live up here because the rain isn’t supposed to freeze? I’m over it.

  17. IHaveALittleProject on December 20th, 2008 7:31 pm

    I’m from Spokane originally, so I don’t mind some winter weather, but my house is in a hilly neighborhood in a Portland suburb that I wouldn’t have ever bought in Spokane. I made it in to work 1 day last week, and we got 9 inches of new snow today.

    The ice storm is supposed to hit tomorrow. I need to get out of my house at some point!

  18. Benne on December 20th, 2008 8:02 pm

    For once, Bellingham isn’t getting the worst of the storm. It’s just starting to snow up here, without much wind, which is a refreshing change of pace.

    Now that it looks like we’re finally getting our white Christmas, I’m ready for spring to start.

  19. The Ancient Mariner on December 20th, 2008 8:05 pm

    Much more likely to break, much less likely to uproot. Beyond even argh’s point, though, the worst of all possible worlds is to have the ground saturated and then to have a repeated freeze/thaw cycle, which breaks up the ground around the root boles and leaves them essentially unanchored; we had that happen a number of years ago, and then when the windstorm came in, it took out 17 mature trees (Douglas fir and western hemlock) in about half an hour.

  20. Slippery Elmer on December 20th, 2008 8:12 pm

    Just keep that storm on your side of the Cascades, guys. We’ve had quite enough over here, thank you very much.

    So, roof’s closed on Qwest tomorrow? 😉

  21. Benne on December 20th, 2008 8:15 pm

    So, roof’s closed on Qwest tomorrow? 😉

    Here’s a fun drinking game for tomorrow: drink every time the announcers say something along the lines of “Brett Favre feels right at home here on this ‘frozen tundra’!” Ba-dum-bum.

  22. msb on December 20th, 2008 8:17 pm

    yeah that Farver guy is going to hate playing in “Likely Light Freezing Rain , Likely Light Ice Pellets (sleet)”

  23. OppositeField on December 20th, 2008 8:26 pm

    got ‘hawks tickets, it’s going to be a mess tomorrow…can’t wait.

  24. xxtinynickxx on December 20th, 2008 9:14 pm

    James hill is now closed and smith about to be here in kent, also we have snow problems now what about flooding when it warms up? Who is up for a swim?

  25. buckleybats on December 20th, 2008 9:24 pm

    So far so good in Buckley, but it is snowing like crazy with those nasty wind gusts, but not as bad a Sexson swing and a miss. Please don’t let the power go out. My two year old will freak without Elmo.

  26. mark s on December 20th, 2008 9:40 pm

    From Olympia.
    Today, I walked pass the capitol lake. It seemed fairly frozen over. There was snow building on the ice. It isn’t suppose to snow like this in Olympia.

  27. Beniitec on December 20th, 2008 9:41 pm

    Ice & wind is much worse. If you have a tree in your yard, I’d be worried. Worse part is the cavalry will take a while to get there.

  28. marc w on December 20th, 2008 11:00 pm

    My house is surrounded by large trees, but I’m not too worried. The hyped ‘gale force winds’ never materialized, and they just cancelled the high-wind warning in the foothills. Lots of snow, but that’s not a big problem for mature trees.

    I think my grape vines might be toast, however.

  29. PaulMolitorCocktail on December 20th, 2008 11:24 pm

    Luckily, the Seahawks are advising fans to expect winter-like conditions and dress appropriately. If they can even get to the stadium.

    I know someone in Gold Bar who was reporting high winds, so some areas got them, just not everyone. Thankfully.

  30. OppositeField on December 20th, 2008 11:32 pm

    Only in Seattle will you hear the term “winter-like conditions”

  31. JLP on December 21st, 2008 12:07 am

    Just started snowing here in Tonasket (two hours north of Wenatchee on Highway 97). Temp says zero degrees.

  32. JMB on December 21st, 2008 12:11 am

    My two year old will freak without Elmo.

    You should get an Elmo flashlight.

  33. msb on December 21st, 2008 7:26 am


    trees still upright?

    power still on?

    freezing rain not too freezing?

  34. Al in Portland on December 21st, 2008 8:53 am

    If a tree falls in an ice storm and Raul Ibanez isn’t in left field, will it still drop in for a base hit?

  35. bradleykamcheff on December 21st, 2008 9:58 am

    Ichiro answering this question in Haiku:

    Cold snow heavy trees
    ground shaking under our feet
    Vidro slip again?

  36. cdowley on December 21st, 2008 10:15 am

    I hope they’re wrong about this. The 2006 storm wasn’t fun.

    I was in Spokane for that one… driving home from dropping my g/f at the airport, I got pushed from one side of I-90 to the other on one gust. That was NOT fun… My parents live in Sequim, according to the weather station my dad has set up, there were a few gusts over 95 that night…

    Stay safe and warm guys.

  37. Jeff Nye on December 21st, 2008 1:20 pm

    According to the P-I, we’re supposed to get six MORE inches of snow this afternoon and evening.

    Tomorrow might be worse than Thursday and Friday were.

  38. Slurve on December 21st, 2008 1:26 pm

    Meh getting sick of this snow but we might Snow on Christmas this year.

  39. msb on December 21st, 2008 1:40 pm

    I don’t like snow.

  40. Jeff Nye on December 21st, 2008 3:53 pm

    People are sledding down the street next to my apartment.

    It’s hilarious.

  41. cdowley on December 21st, 2008 4:24 pm

    Just a heads-up for those it may concern:

    All Pierce County buildings (including the courts and the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, where I work), have been closed since 3:00 Thursday afternoon due to the weather. According to the County Emergency line for employees, it looks like a 50/50 chance at best that the County will re-open tomorrow morning.

    Given what I do and the critical import of the clinic I work for being open on a daily basis for our clients, this frustrates me tremendously, but that’s a whole other story…

  42. BTJP on December 22nd, 2008 1:41 am

    People are sledding down the street next to my apartment.

    It’s hilarious.

    In sleds, I hope.

  43. Jeff Nye on December 22nd, 2008 7:47 am

    Some of them; some of them were on whatever they could find. One girl even went down on her rear end in ski pants, no sled involved at all.

    One guy even got out his snowboard.

  44. Evan on December 22nd, 2008 10:55 am

    In Vancouver, BC, there’s about 10 inches of snow on the ground at the beach. I suspect that gets bigger the further you get from the ocean.

    This has been a fun week.

    And, speaking from experience growing up on the Canadian prairies, frozen trees covered in snow are far more likely to snap, but will almost never uproot.

  45. Brian Rust on December 22nd, 2008 2:35 pm

    Actually, snow risk and wind risk are pretty much mutually exclusive. I suppose you’ve figured that out by now.

    Ice with wind, however, is a different story. Mass breakage is likely.

  46. msb on December 22nd, 2008 4:13 pm

    I shoveled and push-broomed and flattened and finally got the foot of snow down to a minimal level in the unit parking lot driveway — backed the car halfway out of the lot, where it got stuck, very efficiently blocking anyone else’s ability to depart. Fortunately, I got a push to put the black behemoth back into its parking spot.

    I take this as a sign that the roads would be beyond it and me, just now.

    did I mention I don’t like snow?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.