Weathering the Wind

Understanding the March Wind Storm

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC-TV) - There have only been a few major weather events in Rochester in recent history that caused over 100,000 customers to lose power, one being the March windstorm. But, how much of that could have been prevented? And just how strong were those winds?

We went to Delphi in Henrietta, where they have a special chamber that can simulate Alaskan cold, or Death Valley heat. We wanted to simulate the winds from the March wind storm using the wind tunnel.

We started off with just a gentle breeze. At 30 mph, my hair started to whip around, and that's also the point where some of the taller trees start to sway.

At 50 mph, we were officially experiencing Tropical Storm force winds. This is the point where larger trees begin to bend over, and smaller limbs snap off.

70 mph was the maximum wind speed the wind tunnel could reach, and at this point, it was extremely hard to even stand upright. This is the point where we were seeing widespread damage - trees uprooting, larger limbs snapping off, as well as some minor structural damage and shingles being ripped off roofs. 

The peak gust during the wind storm was 81 mph - more than 10 mph stronger than what the Delphi wind tunnel could dish out!

I spoke to Dave Dailey, who is the President of Birchcrest Tree and Landscape.  He's been in the business for 37 years, and has only seen 1 other event with as much damage as the wind storm - and that was the Ice Storm. 

Dailey said a lot of the damage could have actually been prevented. He said, "easily 40% of it was unhealthy trees, and most of it was pretty obvious that something should have been done ahead of time."

He showed me some red flags on some trees that had come down, and some that were still standing. Some were quite obvious. Other's not so much.

He said if you can stick your hand through a hole in a tree, that's a problem! That's a clear sign of decay.

Dailey also said splits running up a tree is diseased wood that is essentially cutting the tree in half. 

He also mentioned those little holes that squirrels love to hide in - another clear sign of a sick tree.

And last - fungus. There are certain types of fungus that live on dead trees - again, another clear sign the tree should be looked at.

If you aren't sure if trees in your yard are healthy or diseased, many tree and landscape companies will come out and give you an estimate, free of charge! And many that charge a fee will simply deduct that assessment fee from your bill when you do have work done. 


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