On March 17, at 7:00 p.m., the Maynard Public Library will present a Zoomed talk titled: “Urban Planting: 150 Years of Trees and Gardens,” sponsored by Maynard Community Gardeners. Registration (required) at https://www.maynardpubliclibrary.org/gardens.
|Windthrown tree, Maynard, 1938 hurricane|
The risk of windthrow is related to the tree's surface area presented by its crown, the anchorage provided by its roots, its health, age, and chronic exposure to wind. The last actually reduces storm damage risk because being chronically exposed to wind causes a tree to increase and widen its root mass, and thus provide greater rooting strength.
Having experienced a hurricane first hand in Mobile, Alabama, it became clear that different species of trees are differently affected. Post-storm, helicopter views of pecan orchards showed the trees all knocked over in the same direction. Southern live oaks survived, but lost branches. In contrast, where several species of southern pine trees had been landscaped into newer suburbs because of their fast growth, many of the trees had snapped in two at heights 10 to 20 feet off the ground, leaving the shorn tops to fly through the air, in some instances stabbing down into house roofs like a toothpick through an olive.
|Windthrown tree, 1938 hurricane|
courtesy Maynard Historical Society
After-the-fact, the hurricane of September 21, 1938 was referred to as the Long Island Express because it bisected Long Island before quickly moving north through Connecticut and Massachusetts. There were more than 700 deaths across New England. Boston Edison reported that two-thirds of its customers lost power; getting power restored to everyone took two weeks. In Maynard, the official report tallied 487 trees blown down: 329 on public streets, 81 on private houses and garages. Most of the street-bordering trees lost were windthrown rather than windsnapped, their root systems weak due to being overlaid by paved streets and sidewalks. Many of the spruce trees in Glenwood Cemetery were lost to the storm, later replaced by sugar maples. That tree tally would have been in-town-only. Forested areas suffered uncounted losses. The Great Depression program WPA (Works Progress Administration) put men to work clearing downed trees and planting hundreds of new trees.
|Beech tree, snapped by storm winds|
Mark’s experience with Hurricane Frederic, September 1979, included afterwards, with no electricity for ten days, everyone was grilling whatever was thawing in their freezers before it went bad.