11 September 2008

Why The Woodlands Cares About Hurricanes

I've mentioned before that I am pretty far away from the coast, which means worrying about hurricanes is a bit silly. It would take one whopper of a storm to bring hurricane-force winds all the way up here.

But if they did get here, it would be pretty catastrophic: It's not called The Woodlands just cuz it's a pretty name. The photo on the right shows my house, sorta. What it shows more clearly is the reason I wanted to live there -- the enormous trees. There are six 100-foot pines in my front yard. (My ballpark estimate on the height). There are a bunch more in the neighbor's front yard. And more in my backyard. 

It's a happy place for trees. Unlike typical suburbs, The Woodlands has historically required developers to plan out their subdivisions with minimum possible impact on the existing environment -- the big trees. And so we have these great neighborhoods full of greens and browns and the smell of pine after hurricanes.

Because hurricanes are not that great for tall pine trees. After Rita, when I lived in a townhouse with much less lush forest around, we had one tall pine go down in the neighborhood, not because of the wind but because of the combination of wind + wet. Because unfortunately, once the ground is wet the tree roots don't hold onto the ground so well, allowing the trees to topple.

That was the problem with Alicia in '93. My parents lived in Memorial (closer to Houston but on the west side) at the time and lost some big pine trees. It had rained a lot right before Alicia, and the trees just went "schloop" out of the mud when the wind hit 'em.

We don't expect that for Ike because it has been very dry for weeks here. But we probably will still have a lot of branches to clean up. The big hope is that none of them go through a window. 

The big question remains as to where Ike will hit. The latest forecast moved him northeast a bit. 50 more miles northeast and The Woodlands will move from his "dirty side" with higher winds & more wet, to the "clean side," a veritable walk in the park as we had for Rita. 

Crossing my fingers & hugging my trees.

As I write, dad is on his way over to help me bring the outdoor furniture inside. Such a good daddy!

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