Blow Me Down!

I’ve always thought ‘blow me down’ was only an expression, but it almost turned out to be literal.  The relaxing holiday I’d envisioned didn’t quite work out that way.  Instead, on December 20 we got pounded with a vicious windstorm with gusts up to 140 km/hr, followed by five days without power.

We were incredibly lucky to have very little property damage and no personal injury; but the forest around our house looks as though it’s been bombed.  Giant trees were completely uprooted leaving gaping craters in the ground, and many of the ones whose roots held ended up snapping.

These were hundred-foot-tall trees, yanked up by their roots. (The big crater in the foreground is a pond – the wind didn’t do that!)

 

The forest looks like shattered toothpicks.

This used to be solid forest but the wind cleared it just like a tunnel, and our house was right in its path. Some of the trees that went down were nearly three feet in diameter. We were SO lucky our house wasn’t damaged!

Two big trees somehow ended up on the ground under our front porch roof without damaging anything on their way down; and our utility trailer blew across the yard and wedged itself halfway under our deck, miraculously without causing any damage there, either.  Other people weren’t so lucky.

Usually a storm like that is relatively short-lived, but this went on for hours.  We were afraid our big front windows would shatter under the force of the wind, but somehow they held.  At one point I heard a crash from outside and cracked the door open to see what had happened, but the wind was so strong it took all my strength to push the door shut again (and I’m no 98-pound weakling).

The wind ripped through every tiny aperture, making drifts of the drywall dust that had been under the bottom plates of the walls during construction.

Some news sources are calling it the worst storm on record for Vancouver Island; others say the worst in ten years.  I’m hoping it was the all-time worst, because I don’t want to experience another one that bad!  I grew up on the prairies with a constant threat of tornadoes, and I’m a total chickenshit when it comes to wind.  Let’s just say I was NOT happy during this storm.

Fortunately we’d planned for power outages when we built the house, and we ran our generator enough to keep ourselves warm and our freezers cold.  BC Hydro did a heroic job of restoring power to the 700,000 customers who were blacked out, although some spent more than a week without power.  When I saw the snarled-up mess of wires down our road, I was truly impressed that they’d been able to get it working again as quickly as they did.

So I dunno; I’m beginning to think Vancouver Island doesn’t want us here.  First it tried to freeze us out with record-breaking snow and cold in our first winter, and now it’s tried to blow us away with record-breaking wind.  I’m just hoping it doesn’t attempt to shake us off with a giant earthquake next.

But at least we had a good test of our emergency preparations, and we’ll be doing some tweaking to make sure we’re ready (as much as we can be) for the next crisis.

Meanwhile, our island home is returning to its usual tranquility and we’re feeling thankful for our good fortune.  It’s a nice way to start a new year:  Healthy, happy, and grateful.

Happy New Year, everybody – wishing you all the best in 2019!

Book 14 update:  My writing schedule got disrupted by the storm and power outage, but I still managed to make it to Chapter 42.  The end is in sight!

26 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Life

26 responses to “Blow Me Down!

  1. Drae

    Just heard on the news that the west coast is in line to get another blast of that good ole’ winter weather. Batten down the hatches and stay safe and dry.

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    • Thanks, Drae! The first snowflakes are drifting down now; and they’re predicting 8″, but it’s supposed to turn to rain tomorrow. Fingers crossed that it won’t stick around!

      Like

      • Drae

        That storm is supposed to reach us over the weekend and has now been changed to a cold wet rain “maybe” turning to a light snow Monday. It’s been in the 60’s this week. NC weather — if you don’t like it today, just wait. Tomorrow it will be different.

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        • Crazy! That’s what we always used to say about Calgary weather, too – if you don’t like it, stick around for ten minutes.

          Fortunately the storm didn’t amount to much here – we got a couple of inches of snow and then it warmed up and rained for a whole day, so it’s mostly gone. I hope you avoid the snow!

          Like

  2. Well, okay, but remember the offer stands. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Holey cows, Sista! And now five inches of rain? If it gets too weird for you, come to Texas. The weather here is only wacko, not completely deranged. Well, mostly. Er, usually. Uh, sorta.

    Okay, forget the weather. But the people are fun! 🤪

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  4. Wow that is unbelievable!one to see the power of such large trees being plucked like poppies and secondly that your house didn’t sustain any damage. I’d say that the island wants you to stay keeping you safe through it all.

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  5. The Blog Fodder

    The damage to the trees you photographed is hard to believe, 3′ trees blown over. So glad you escaped with minimum damage and were not hurt. Are you close enough to the ocean you could escape a fire by boat?

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    • Sadly, no. We’re ten minutes from the shore, but the only way out is through a giant stand of trees. If that’s burning, we’re out of luck. It’s not a good feeling – usually I enjoy summer, but for the last two summers I’ve breathed a sigh of relief when it’s over and the rains start. I’m hoping we don’t have such a bad drought this summer, and maybe the fires won’t be so bad.

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  6. jenny_o

    I thought of you when your storm was in the news. Yay for generators! We live in a densely populated area, so are first to get back our power and have never had a generator. But it’s a very handy thing if you’re isolated at all.

    Wind scares me, too. When you can feel the house sway in the gusts, it’s a frightening thing. We had Hurricane Juan here in September 2003, followed by White Juan (a huge blizzard) the following winter. Everybody lost power for an extended period of time. Hurricane Juan wiped out huge numbers of trees in and around Halifax. It was the worst storm since the 1890s. Fortunately we don’t usually have them that bad. And hopefully you won’t have one that bad again for a very, very long time!

    Happy New Year, Diane. May 2019 be calmer, at least weather-wise 🙂

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    • Thank you, and happy new year to you, too! Your coast seems to get hit with those massive snowstorms far too often. I only lived in Halifax for a year and we had an ice storm that left an inch of ice on everything; but no heavy snow like White Juan. I hope 2019 is a good year for your weather, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Glad you’re okay! We had a wind storm like that about 10 years ago. I was in awe of the wind’s ability to nearly flatten sections of a mature forest. The downed trees eventually helped fuel a major forest fire several years later. These things are happening more often, as predicted. I don’t know that there is anywhere to go to get away from all of it.

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    • You’re right, there are no safe places on this planet. And forest fires are a major concern here – last summer was a bad one for fires, and now we’re set up for even worse. We’re looking into ways to make our house less vulnerable – a firebreak around it, making sure the attic vents have fine screens, and if we ever get our pond lined (crosses fingers) we’d like to rig up an exterior sprinkler system to keep the house wet. The part that worries me most is that we only have one way in and out, and if that’s blocked we’re out of luck. Scary.

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  8. and here I thought we were getting a post about Popeye or sea shanties … Glad you survived the winds. Not fun to be without power that long.

    I think nature did try to throw an earthquake at you, but it missed and hit Alaska instead. Be careful up there.

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    • We’re considering guy-wires! Sorry to disappoint you with the nautical reference – I love the ocean, but only when I’m on the dry side of it. Any sea shanty I wrote would sound like “Oh, please, get me back to dry land!”
      😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I had heard in the news about the wind storm that raked the Pacific Northwest, but had no idea of the extent of damage….incredible. I have a high respect for the power of wind having grown up in tornado country, but wow….you are fortunate you didn’t have any major damage to your home! Here’s to hoping 2019 shows you the best of Vancouver Island, because it is truly a stunningly beautiful place to live!

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    • Thank you, Kirt! The windstorm was probably my fault – I had been boasting to our friends back in windy Calgary that “it’s so calm at our place, the wind only blows a handful of times a year”. We’re sheltered by a mountain range most of the time, but this storm came in at exactly the right angle for maximum damage. I’m going to keep my mouth shut now!

      But you’re right, Vancouver Island is stunningly beautiful. Every day I wake up, look out the window, and ask myself how I ever got lucky enough to live here! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m glad you made it through with minimal damage. We had a massive storm in Victoria that took down a very large cedar onto our neighbours house. It was our cedar unfortunately. It did considerable damage to their family room and garage and took out three levels of our side deck. Never mess with mother nature. The reason you’re having these challenges is the Island is seeing if you’re worthy of being an inhabitant. If you can pass the test, you can then start to call seagulls “shit hawks”. This nomenclature is reserved for dyed in the wool islanders. Happy New Year!

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    • LOL! I’ve been calling them shit hawks for years in the hope of tricking the Island into accepting us. I just hope it doesn’t have too many more “tests” up its sleeve!

      Hearing about your property damage in Victoria just makes me all that much more thankful we escaped with only a few mangled patio chairs and bent railings. I think we might cut down some more trees within falling range of the house just to be on the safe side – the gravelly “soil” here has no holding power at all, and those trees are TALL!

      Happy new year! 🙂

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  11. Drae

    I heard in the news about the storm that hit the northwest. Reminded me of our Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. I remember when Hurricane Floyd hit here in North Carolina. Between the flooded roads and trees down we had a hard time getting anywhere. It just seems like there have been more of these once in 500 year storms or floods. It seems they are happening every few years,. It is just more convincing that global warming is really affecting our weather patterns.

    Glad you were prepared and had no more serious damage than you did. Really anticipating the new book.

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    • Thanks, Drae! I’ve watched the news about those hurricanes and they scare the pants off me. I didn’t think we’d ever have to deal with them here, but you’re right – the weather patterns are definitely changing. As the saying goes, “We live in interesting times”.

      Happy new year!

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  12. SO GLAD you escaped total damage. I was shocked to hear there had been a tornado at Port Orchard and didn’t know you’d had trouble with that storm there. You were lucky!
    In years past I’ve been in a windstorm that snapped the tops off of trees, a wind shear, right in the middle of the summer more than once. Camping out in that kind of weather is terrifying.
    I hope “Nature’s Plan” will result in delightful discoveries as little flowers and other plants emerge from the former shadows.
    Best to you in the new year. Happy writing, looking forward to your next release.

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    • Thank you so much, and all the best to you 2019, too! 🙂 And I’m sure you’re right about the new opportunities for smaller plants to flourish. There’s so much more light now – I’m looking forward to seeing how the “new” forest will develop!

      If you were camping in a storm like this, you’re MUCH braver than I. As soon as the first treetop crashed down I’d have been in my car and long gone. Those things come down like spears – it looks like a brand-new forest afterward, until you realize that it’s only the broken-off treetops jammed so far into the soil that they’re standing vertical. *shudders*

      Like

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