I grew up in Mississippi, so I am well versed in severe thunderstorms and tornado weather. My hometown had civil defense sirens throughout the city. Any time there was an official tornado warning, they would go off, alerting everyone of the potential danger.
Our farm is situated outside the limits of a much smaller city, and so no civil defense sirens. I have adapted to the lack of sirens by installing the NOAA Weather Radio app on my phone and setting up an enormously long list of possible weather alerts for the state and my county. Whew!! I also have an official “weather radio” that is plugged in and on at all times (and it does have a set of batteries in case of a power outage).
This spring has already had its share of bad weather. We have had multiple tornado-laden thunderstorms in March and April, sending me to my storm closet three times so far, and I have been without power at least a half dozen times.
The last storm was Tuesday, May 4th. It was not anywhere near as violent or long-lasting as the two prior storms that had put me in the storm closet. We were under a tornado watch, and I had just finished a Zoom call with an old friend. The lights had been flickering near the end of the call, and we lost power within minutes after I hung up. And then the wind and rain just went INSANE. Despite the lack of an official tornado warning, I had never seen the wind get so violent, and so I immediately went to the storm closet with dog and cat in tow.
After sheepishly remaining in the closet for about 30 minutes, every so often peeking out to see if the winds had died down, it appeared safe enough to come out. I was abashed at my willingness to tuck tail and head to the storm closet, but then I started to realize the extent of the storm damage.
Friends, it was a damn good thing I went into that closet because I lost three oak trees, two of which were some of the most enormous and beautiful oak trees on the property. I am heartsick at the loss, but glad to know that my intuition was spot on.
Above is a picture of Grandmother. She is one of the grand dame oak trees on the property, and she is now split in two. We think we can save the other half but only time will tell. She is such a fixture in the pasture that several people have called or commented on the loss.
The tree pictured above is the smallest of the three oaks that were affected. He sits in the most northeast corner of the property. The top lopped off, but the tree will likely survive.
This was the most dramatic and the tree closest to the house. How I did not hear this oak snap, I don’t know, but I did not. It shows you how intense the rain and wind was during the time I remained hidden within the storm closet. The entire top of the oak was separated from the rest of the tree. It is that top and a large part of one side that is laying on the ground in the photos. Best we can tell, the interior of the oak had rotted out, likely due to water infiltrating the core of the tree through a large hole. While the last 10+ years or so of growth looked great, the interior was starting to hollow out and much of that interior wood was rotten.
In addition to the loss the three oak trees, the winds also tore a large number of shingles off the roof of the former milking barn (as can be seen in the initial Featured Image for the post). Overall, the spring storms have taken their toll. We are hoping that this is the last for a long while.