Sunday, December 22, 2013

If a Tree Falls in the Woods, Will the Tower Still Stand?

Last night the weather forecast was: "While a few, scattered showers cannot be ruled out throughout the evening and overnight...the main activity, in the form of heavier rain, strong gusty winds and perhaps even a few thunderstorms, won't near until 2-6 AM from west to east."  Specific forecast predictions said the wind would hit Huntington between 3 and 4 a.m. and Charleston between 4 and 5 a.m.  WELL - - - Just after 1 a.m. I was awakened by the house creaking and the sound of fast moving wind and rain.  It lasted until about 2 a.m. which was a good deal longer than I had expected.

Yesterday was the first official day of winter and record temperatures
were set in both Huntington and Charleston at 75°.  The National Weather Service Area Forecast Discussion for Charleston at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday did not think the winds were going to be significant:

Base of the Two Trees
However, local TV station WOWK-TV reported gusts as high as 60 mph and indicated the storm was moving across the area at 85 mph.  Only some 5,000 customers were without power however.

Center Section of the Trees
Once daylight returned, I took a look to see if my tower was still standing.  It was, but darned if it didn't look to be leaning just a little.  Further inspection showed a tree had fallen from my neighbor's property onto the Westerly set of guys for my tower. 

As you can see in the attached photos, the tree broke over about 5-1/2 to 6-feet above ground level.  This had actually happened in a previous storm and the tree had been supported at about a 60° angle by adjacent trees.  
Last night's storm finished the job of bringing it down.  As you can see in the third photo below, the top part of the trees were resting on the guys for my tower.  Click on any photo to see it larger.

Both of my go-to "Chain Saw Guys" were out of town so the job fell to me.  I began cutting the two trees (which had grown up together) about 2-feet above the ground to get them low enough so that they could be cut off the guys.  After I made my first wedge cut, I went back up the hill to get the gas can and bar oil for the chainsaw.  At that point my neighbor (who owned the land where the tree was) came to help and he did the rest of the cutting while I did the pulling and such. 
Top of Trees on Guy Wires

Eventually we were able to free the guy wires but they are quite slack.  I assume the tower has been pulled out of line and the guys may have been stretched due to the weight of the trees.  I will assess that situation later and see what needs to be done.  I'm just glad the tower is still standing!

I will need to go sight up the tower from the base and see how far it is out of line and see what can be done with the opposite guy wires to pull it back into line.  Then, I need to see if there was any damage to the Phillystran from the trees.  I saw nothing today but will want to check that just to be sure.

Could have been a WHOLE lot worse!