Last week’s storm brought a lot of snow, but it also unleashed some serious wind on the mountain. The storm event started out with warm ground and rain which then transitioned to heavy, wet snow. Trees were loaded from the snow and the roots loosened up by the moist ground conditions. Oftentimes, during these types of heavy storms later in the fall or early winter, the ground is frozen which helps to hold the trees in place.
The trees that remain in areas we recently thinned through logging operations are still transitioning. These trees undergo a process known as wind hardening where they become stronger and more able to stand up to wind gusts without the protection of many trees near by to help shelter them. The upslope winds (out of the east) tore through the exposed portion of the upper mountain during the storm knocking many of these trees over that were still working through this transition.
Our patrol chainsaw crew is cleaning up the blowdowns but it will take a bit of time. I would say we had several hundred trees knocked over. So, the thinning continues.
We had some snowfences blown over above the Quickdraw trail as well. The weather stations on the pass went silent during the storm so we are not quite sure of the wind speeds. I can say without a doubt, it was quite a September storm.