The Santa Ana's #1: Huff, puff and blow all your trees down

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Blog entry by scruboak51 posted 05-13-2014 04:26 AM 1315 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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We had some pretty sustained Santa Ana's last week. The strongest gust as measured at the local weather observatory was only 43mph (~60kph), but it was a very consistent period of wind over two days. For those not familiar with the term, it is a very strong system of wind usually warm and dry that can clock upwards of 80mph (120kph).

While making my morning coffee I noticed one of the trees near the house swaying a bit more than usual. It died during a late season drought which we didn’t catch until this spring when it failed to pop leaves. The plan was to get it out over the next month or two.

When i went down for my afternoon cup of coffee, I noticed that the wind put a pretty significant fast track on those plans.

If you look close you can see our hammock doing an admirable job of preventing a larger catastrophe. Not knowing how long the hammock would hold, I grabbed the chainsaw and got to work. The first priority was getting as many of the limbs off the main trunk as the winds were still gusting pretty good at this point.

Sufficiently de-limbed, I next rigged the main trunk into the eucalyptus trees. The way the upper branches had ‘sprung’ into the neighboring trees had me concerned that cutting the main trunk, or any higher branches would cause the top end to pivot out into the large bay window’s on either corner of the house.

Once secured, it was time for the moment of truth. I cut the main portion of the trunk. It was with great satisfaction that my rigging worked. Below you can see the fall line and it’s proximity to a very expensive set of windows.

Not too shabby for felling my first tree! Although, not sure it counts as it was already half down.

With the first tree down, I turned my attention to the second tree. It was not up-rooted yet, but it was starting to take a nasty lean directly towards the house. I again de-branched as much as possible and used my rigging skills to fasten the tree to a neighboring pine.

Not wanting to push my felling skills I decided to call a local tree service, explaining that situation and that I just need the tree felled. Well, Thursday rolled into Friday and my second call was greeted with assurance that he would be there Saturday morning. At 7am Sunday I said the heck with this; threw on my old climbing harness shimmied my way to the top, fixed some more rigging and started felling in pieces with a hand saw (1 hand holding on, 1 hand sawing…

With the top felled, I was able to switch to the chainsaw and cut the remaining tree in about the middle using the anchor line to force it to fall in the correct direction.

Feeling satisfied my phone rings, it’s the tree guy he’s on the way.

Now, all would be forgiven if he rolled up in a beat up pick-up, hopped out in chaps with his grizzly adams beard, Husqvarna slung around his shoulder. Instead, I get some smooth talking combination of a preacher and Donald Trump. No hi, hello, sorry about the delay; just right into a full on blitz of the property telling me about all the great work he can do and for the low price of $800

Thanks but no thanks… On the upside I’ve got some wood for projects.

Thanks for reading

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3256 posts in 3861 days

#1 posted 05-14-2014 07:35 AM

Glad you were able to fell those safely. It’s awfully dangerous work!

We had straight-line winds take out much of our timber back in 2011. Loggers removed the downed timber and we had nearly all the other trees removed that were leaning toward any of our buildings. Then last year two trees died—one leaning toward the house and one toward the workshop. We managed to get a logger who climbs drop them in pieces (no clean-up) for $200—a real bargain for the hour it took him! They were both unreachable with a bucket truck.


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

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