Monday, January 30, 2012

The Real and Sad Aftermath

Ten days ago I blogged about the winter storm we were having. My last post on Thursday the 19th was called "Aftermath" but it was misnamed. The storm wasn't over and there was much more aftermath to come.

The freezing rain continued for another day and two more terrifying nights. I say terrifying because the sounds of trees and limbs falling all around us kept everyone in the valley awake and alert and praying for a warm front to melt the ice and snow. It was emotionally stressful and devastating to think about the destruction the storm was causing.

Our neighbors left their house and their worst fears came true when a limb fell on their home. There were wide spread power outages up and down the Columbia Gorge in both Washington and Oregon. We were spared that inconvenience. Our power did go out about half a dozen times but only for an hour or so. Other people were without power for days as electricians worked around the clock to clear trees and restore power lines.

After another sleepless night of worry we were immensely relieved Saturday morning when the temperature had risen above 40 degrees and things began to thaw. The thumping and rattling sounds on the house were the clumps of snow and ice falling off the trees rather than their branches.

When we finally ventured out, the true aftermath became apparent.  The orchards with their carefully pruned trees were spared any damage but everywhere else, tall trees with straight boughs that had been bent over with the weight of snow and ice snapped off in the middle leaving debris along every road and in every yard.

I wonder what this tree will look like in summer with leaves only on the sides.

A beautiful birch in this yard will never be the same.

We've got lots of clean-up to do. That pile of branches from the Douglas fir was created when the top branches fell and took all the lower branches off on the way down. All the limbs on one side of the tree are gone.

The plum tree continued to go to pieces.

Though we have always been Do-It-Yourselfers for many types of jobs, we'll be hiring an arborist to tackle these dangerous dangling limbs.

On top of all this we still have frozen, crusty snow covering the ground, weighing down my ornamental shrubs and breaking my heart as well as their branches.

Spring will be an interesting time.


  1. Sad to see. Stay safe around the damaged trees! This reminds me of the Ontario ice storm in January 1998 (yes, I had to google to ascertain the year). The landscape was altered.

  2. It's always sad to see trees/limbs broken like that. We go through an ice storm every now and then along with an occasional hurricane. It looks like it will never be beautiful again, but it will. Glad everyone was safe.

  3. We've experienced lots of ice storms both here and in the Midwest, but this was the daddy of them all. Even the old timers say there hasn't been anything like it since about 1969. We were blessed here that things weren't worse and glad we kept power.

  4. It is so sad. But I consider wind and ice Mother Nature's pruner. Without all that trimming many of those trees are susceptible to fire and other damage. If they survive they will probably be healthier for it.

    Such a mess to clean up.

  5. We have been through a similar event and your photos and story remind me of sitting in our house hearing what sounded like gunshots and glass breaking. What a mess to clean up and it WAS sad. So sorry for what you have to deal with and the loss of trees and bushes. Like someone else said, it will be beautiful again one day.

  6. Gunshots and glass. Exactly.
    I know that some of the trees will come back but the thing about it is how the center and most tall boughs were usually the ones to break with the weight of ice. The outer branches bent to the ground and didn't break. This is certainly not the way to prune anything and I'm also wondering if those jagged breaks in the boughs, too high to trim with a saw, will be susceptible to disease or insects and later weaken the trees which will then fall in a windstorm!
    The good news is that the tree and landscape companies are going to have a very good fiscal year!


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