Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Windy Tale

Last weekend, our daughter's softball game was interrupted due to a tornado warning. Rather than book it back to our mobile home, we decided to weather this one out at our house site. Our brick pizza oven was still warm from the night before, so we heated up leftovers and listened to the radio for weather updates.

In spite of strong winds and driving rain, things were calm and cozy inside our timberframe. Our peace and quiet was interrupted though when giant hail started slamming the steel garage doors on the north side of our house. We soon retreated to the basement !

While studying a clumpy ball of hail about the size of my fist (and pondering the condition of our solar panels), I watched a 100 plus foot oak tree slam into the stone pile in our front yard. Four more trees of that size fell within seconds, but I didn't get to see them, because I was herding our family away from the windows and into the storm room that adjoins our basement.

Torrential rain accompanied the winds, such that all of the runoff from the roof (we don't have gutters yet) was blown against the house walls and ran down behind the unfinished stonework and into the basement. When the greatest danger passed, we emerged from the storm room to place buckets where water was running past the sill plate. And as soon as the rain subsided we walked upstairs and looked out our windows to find 80 to 100 year old oak trees laying in our front yard and across our driveway.

Fortunately, the tree damage was limited to the vicinity of our house -- very few trees fell elsewhere on our farm this time. Still though, the uprooted trees were eerily reminiscent of those that came down in the 2003 ice storm and supplied all of the timbers for our house. By comparison, this week's storm was insignificant... providing only 17 loader buckets of firewood and 12 large logs (for our porch timbers perhaps?).

We were lucky that no trees hit the house, because I now realize that some of the remaining standing trees are within range of the house if they were to fall. I believe I'll do some heavy pruning when I get caught up on some of my other projects. I have no desire to splice a timber frame back together or repair a slate roof. (Incidentally, the solar panels were just fine - the somewhat slushy hail came from the north whereas the panels face south.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about the slate? With large hail the slates can get damaged according to "The Slate Roof Bible."

House looks great! I wonder about the tyvec though. it generally starts showing some breakdown after a year or so in the sun.


June 26, 2009 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Ha ha - Tyvek. Yes, tyvek. Very smart. Well, I neglected to mention that our tyvek lasted 2 years before pieces of it ripped off and were flapping in the breeze. What you see in these pictures is a fresh coat of tyvek, applied over top of the old tyvek. Good question. The label says not to expose more than 90 or 120 days. I think we can get this tyvek covered before we have to put on another coat. :)

Our slate is fine as far as I can tell. What's weird is this hail looked more like snow-cones than solid chunks of ice. The biggest super-solid chunk of ice that I saw was about like a marble and we've had that hail here before with no damage to the slate. I think the big hail balls were conglomerations of the smaller hail balls that were blown together before they hit the ground.

Thanks for reading and for the smart comments!!

June 26, 2009 at 12:53 PM  
Anonymous The Gilberts said...

OMG, you guys (and your house) were lucky. We had driveway damage from the heavy rain; but, no tree damage that we could tell.

June 27, 2009 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

yep, we _were_ lucky. A tree landed on both side of that orange kubota tractor, and none hit our cars in the back yard, even though they were in range of similar trees that didn't blow down! glad to hear that all you got was a gully washer - we had a good bit of washed out driveway too.

June 28, 2009 at 9:54 AM  

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