Despite Sunday gusts as high as 69 miles per hour in Billings and 72 in Laurel and a damaged wind turbine out at the City College campus, damage throughout the metropolitan area appears to have been moderate in terms of the volume reported, to the point that some at the National Weather Service’s local branch were surprised.
“We didn’t really get a lot of damage reports, which is kind of odd,” said Marc Singer, science and operations officer for the NWS. “It was obviously a really windy day.”
Officials at City College were unavailable to comment on the damage, and Taisei Tech, the wind energy company whose logo is painted across the turbines blades adjacent to the MSUB Yellowjacket, did not respond to requests for information.
In some neighborhoods, the damage came in the form of blown deck chairs and toppled bird feeders. Elsewhere, early Halloween decorations were given a howling scare.
“Broken roofs, gutters, decks,” Tom Yelvington, an arborist with Yellowstone Valley Tree Surgeons, said of the damage he’d seen. “Other storms we’ve looked at, there’s been car damage and other things. But this one wasn’t that bad really.”
“All the trees I’ve looked at yesterday and today, I could have predicted they would fall fairly soon.” Yelvington said. “It just picked on the trees with the weak forks and decay in the lower trunks and with (other) issues that were going on.”
Yelvington suggested that some of the storm damage may not reveal itself until the next one strikes. “There may be a lot more damage than what we’re seeing. Trees can develop cracks vertically and horizontally that are really hard to see. Another snowstorm, another windstorm, could come along and then that one part could fall – or the whole tree.”
“If people are concerned for their property or their kids or dogs getting hurt in the future, just have a professional take a look at something.”
Another arborist, David Voegele with Arbor Tech Tree Service offered one explanation for how wind damage can work, particularly in relation to trees. “As you move out to where there aren’t a lot of things around, they kind of get more of that direct blunt of the wind, in areas where you don’t have a large tree base to work off.” Voegele said. “Whereas when you get into the older sections of town, you’ve got so many trees that it breaks the wind up compared to areas that are exposed to the direct force.”
Forecasts for Tuesday appear to be mild, with winds predicted to top out around midday at between 20 and 30 mph, less than half of what the area experienced recently.
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