Learning from windy weather | Dennis Box

When I left home Tuesday morning the wind was blowing. For most places around the Puget Sound, that is not necessarily a big deal, but in Enumclaw we take notice. The wind really knows how to blow in that tow

When I left home Tuesday morning the wind was blowing. For most places around the Puget Sound, that is not necessarily a big deal, but in Enumclaw we take notice. The wind really knows how to blow in that town.

There have been terrific and at times terrifying storms with wind gusts reaching 90 mph, and the damage in and around the town has been at times devastating

The Tuesday morning wind storm, which wasn’t much, started me thinking about the times I have run across tree ordinance in cities I cover. I have to admit it always makes me wonder. Particularly after our most recent freezing rain and snow storm in January.

Most the people I know in Enumclaw are not what I would call afraid to whack down a tree.

I was raised on a farm and my dad was a very pragmatic guy. If a tree was close enough to fall on our house, it got cut down.

I remember the Columbus Day storm of 1962. My dad took me up to the White River lumber mill after it blew through the region.

There were cranes on parallel bars for lifting the stacks of lumber that came out of the drying kilns. I will never forget it. These enormous cranes were hanging upside down from the rods like giant dead spiders. It was one of the most bizarre sights I have ever seen.

The first freezing rain storm I remember was when I was in Philadelphia the winter of 1973. I still have not seen a freezing rain storm here that compares to anything Philadelphia served. Those cobblestone streets with trolly tracks running down the middle were a great way to enhance the nastiness of an East Coast freezing rain attack. The first time I was walking down Broad Street in Philadelphia getting pounded by freezing rain I was pretty sure I had fallen into the seventh level of Dante’s Inferno.

When I drove around the Puget Sound region after the most recent freezing rain and snowstorm I was amazed to see how many houses had trees within striking distance. I understand folks feel warmly about trees, but trees don’t feel warmly about you when they are crashing through your roof in the middle of the night.

A forest ranger told me years ago that allowing Douglas firs to grow up next to your home is asking for a very large toothpick to hit you on the head.

He said Douglas firs were first growth, which accounts for those root systems that are about a foot deep on a 100-foot tree. According to the ranger, Douglas firs are designed by God to blow down or fall over to make way for second growth.

That is why any time someone would get all misty eyed about a “old growth” stand of Douglas firs my ranger friend would look like he was having a stroke.

You drive by the farm where I was raised today and there are no trees around the house. There are plenty of trees beyond the fields. When I was a kid, people cleared before building because the wind blows really hard sometimes. Big trees cause a lot of damage when they hit things and cost a pile of money.

Seems like basic math to me.


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