|Knock, knock. |
It's been terribly windy in eastern Connecticut for the past few days, apparently because of a powerful offshore storm. The worst of the wind was Sunday (May 8 2022), when a good sized Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) was blown over in the woods next to my house, falling uncomfortably close to structures, with the tree's top coming right down a stair case and grazing my side door. There wasn't any significant damage, fortunately, though my old pallet-wood compost bin is no longer with us. I wasn't around at the time, but my sweetie says the noise was terrifying and that it briefly looked and sounded like a tornado was going by outside. Strangely, the sky was clear and the sun was out for the whole event. The local weather station recorded 30 mph gusts that day, but this must have been stronger. I'm not even sure what this sort of weather would be called... is a blue-sky microburst a thing?
|The compost bin has received a major new contribution. |
The tree was actually half of a pine with a forked trunk, which was clearly a weak point. The downed portion has a diameter of about 12 inches. The tree was about 50 years old. It's actually easy to get a more or less exact age for a youngish pine tree like this, without taking a core or cutting a clean section of the base to count rings. A pine branch that is actively growing produces exactly one whorl of new branches at its tip each year. So, you can pick a healthy branch and start counting whorls from the tip back to the trunk, then count whorls of branches down the trunk as far as you can go, and you have the age in years. In older pines the lower, overtopped branches eventually die, fall off, heal over and disappear, but this takes quite a while to happen. For this tree I couldn't find any sign of branch whorls only for the 2-3 feet at the very base, which I would guesstimate took the then-young pine seedling about 5 years to achieve back in the 1970s. (The scars from branch whorls that I can see low on the trunk are far apart, indicating that the tree was growing quickly and the environment must have been much more open and sunny.)
|Two years worth of growth from one of the upper branches of the pine. The tip and whorl of branches at the lower part of the photo is from 2021, and the stem and branches above are from 2020. |
I'm not sure if the remaining half of the pine will survive; possibly not after losing so much of itself and with a big open wound in its trunk. It would probably be a good idea to take the rest of it down, especially if it seems to be in decline this summer.