Sunday, August 2, 2015

Toppling Trees Like They Were Toothpicks

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground

A lady at church today told us about how once a few years ago a huge wind storm knocked so many trees down at Heart of the Hills Campground that it shut much of the campground down.  I thought, “So that explains all the trees knocked down..”  Being the curious type, I did some research on when this happened, and found out that it has happened a number of times

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground

Ok, so that explains this scenario….where a more recently fallen tree is lying on top of a tree which has been down for many more decades than the top one.


One source of information came right here in the park, over in loop C.  It says, in part:
On the night of February 12, 1979, a windstorm blew across the Olympic peninsula.  Along the coast, gusts reached 98 miles per hour.  Trees fell like toothpicks -- 92 toppled in this campground alone -- leaving a quarter-mile-long corridor of downed trunks.
Storm Damage from 2007, Heart of the Hills Campground

The ran an article dated November 20, 2007 article showed the above picture, and says, in part:
The Heart O' The Hills campground will be closed for about a month while work continues to clear "quite a bit" of blown down trees and other debris from last week's storm, said Barb Maynes, Olympic National Park spokesperson.
The Nov. 12 storm - which included 123 mph winds at Glines Canyon Dam - closed several roads in 922,000-acre Olympic National Park, including the Hoh, Sol Duc, Ozette, Olympic Hot Springs, Hurricane Ridge plus the campgrounds accessed by those roads.
According to the National Park Website, the campground did not fully reopen until June of 2008.

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground   Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground

I drove around the campground today with my camera…

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground with Skruffy

…and my trusted assistant looking over the many, many fallen trees.  It reminded me of a time back in or around 2007…I was living in a 5th wheel in Jefferson County Regional Park at the Saracen RV Park.  I kept a pretty good eye on storms blowing through Jefferson County, which is just below Little Rock.  There were many times over the years that I found shelter for my young family, and later, just for myself, at the Main Library Children’s area where a tornado of any size would have a hard time getting through the 20 feet or so of dirt that surrounded much of the Children’s area outer walls since the back and sides are buried in the ground. 

wind tale

On one particular night while I was living in the park, dog sitting for one of my staff members who had to be out of town (pre-Skruffy days), and the TV talked about a storm coming.  It was one of those close call type of storms…it looked like it would die out before it hit Pine Bluff, when it did hit it was going to be around 2 am…so I just kept watching, and decided it was nothing and went to bed around 12:30.  Just before 2 am I start to hear the wind, and the 5th wheel starts shaking.  I turn on the TV and the storm in upon us, and it is not small.  The intensity grew and grew, and I grabbed the dog, laid on the floor next to the bed and road it out.  I could hear “SNAPS” and “CRASHES” and deep “THUDS”.  Electricity is gone.  Within a minute it started to die out. Within two minutes it was just some rain.  I look out the door and it was so dark…but I could see leaves, twigs, and stuff all over.  The trees by me were still intact, so I went back to bed.  In the morning the park looked like a disaster zone.  Many trees were snapped, others were uprooted.  There were a dozen or so of us who lived in the park long term, and two got hit, but not too bad.  We were all lucky that night, some were within a few feet of having major limbs land on their bedroom.  There were no trees down in my campsite.  The only road into the place was blocked by two different trees…needless to say, I was not to work on time…so I called myself and said, “Boss, I am going to late today.” (little humor there)

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground

Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground    Storm Damage from Years Ago, Heart of the Hills Campground

What I saw today was the remnants of the same type of storm I faced, although this one looked a bit more severe.  The park I was at cleaned everything up, hauled away all the broken trees, down limbs and twigs.  Here in the National Park, they let nature take care of things…as they should.  They cleaned out areas around camping spots, they used fallen tree trunks to outline camping spots, even cut some trunks and put near the fire pits for natural chairs.  One day, it will all turn to dust, after bugs have fed upon them, after nutrients are returned back to the earth…and my guess is much of this mess will still be around for many generations to come.


  1. It was like that when I was in Kansas, although no trees went down. Just downright scary!!! Mother Nature can be pretty wild at times!!

    1. From what I read, at least in the one that took place in 2007, they had emptied the parks because they knew it was coming. I would have hated to be in here when this one took place because there are so many trees....


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