That Bastard Ike

Being that Bradford, Ohio is 1,250 Google Miles* from Galveston, Texas, you might have expected that by the time the remnants of Hurricane Ike managed to make their way here they might be nothing more than a stiff breeze and a spot of rain. But look what that bastard Ike did to one of the trees in the yard:

The wind literally cleaved the poor tree in twain, it did, and now half of the leafy beast is lying across my driveway. Here’s a closeup of the wound:

Hopefully this doesn’t end up killing the rest of the tree. My father-in-law is coming tomorrow with a chainsaw to chop up the debris.

Now, to be sure, this is nothing even remotely close to what Texas and other points south of us experienced; we lost part of a tree, other people had their homes turned into soggy rubble. But what it does tell me is this: Ike, it was one hell of a storm.

One silver lining to this all, however: Got some nifty pictures of Athena playing in the windstorm (well away from the tree):

Click through to see the rest of them.

* Google Miles: The miles it takes to go from one place to another, as measured through Google Maps. Bear in mind I do not really think Ike used Google Maps to find my house to beat up on my tree.

52 Comments on “That Bastard Ike”

  1. Nothing beats a cloudy day for perfect light for photography. Better than squinting into the sun any day of the week. Good work Mr Scalzi.

  2. John,

    P.S. Glad to know that you are yours are well with only minor damages. I’m rather more concerned for some of my co-workers who live and work in Houston.

  3. Your local hardware store probably stocks stuff to cover up the wound in the tree and keep insects from getting in. Who knows, maybe plain old latex paint would suffice.

    Glad that was the only damage. Up here in Michigan we only got rain, no wind to speak of.

  4. I’ve been out of the weather loop this weekend.

    How can winds that are coming from due west be from Ike? Did they hit the Rockies and take a U turn?

  5. Is that a bradford/callery pear tree(sp?)? If so you shouldn’t be surprised, those things are like cardboard trees.

    Either way it doesn’t look fatal for the tree. It’s just experiencing hairloss.

  6. Is that a Bradford pear? They *do* that. Famous for it. Weak crotches.

    Not to diminish your loss, of course. It’s just like a willow dropping limbs, inevitable.

  7. Cassie @#6, Our Gracious Host @#7: The center of the low that is the remnants of Ike look to have crossed the northern end of the great state of Ohio, passing to the north of the Scalzi Compound. As everyone knows, winds rotate around a low in a counterclockwise direction. Thus, when a low is to the north, the winds will be out of the west.

    In tomorrow’s science class, we’re going to start on the periodic table.

  8. Yep. Agreed with #8 and #9, that was my thought exactly… Bradford Pear… We have them all over the place here (N. TX) and they split at the slightest provocation :D

  9. My folks live in Louisville, KY, and the city took a pounding. 75 mph winds. There are 200,000+ without power and there will be millions in insurance claims.

    That’s one helluva storm!

  10. I think I can add to the strangeness of your Ike experience. I live in San Antonio, 247 google miles from Galveston, and we got absolutely nothing from Ike except for a slight temperature drop on Sunday (which was rather pleasant actually). We didn’t even really get any rain.

  11. We had roaring winds all day on this side of Dayton too. Pruned a tree pretty well for me, and ripped some siding off a couple places. The new roof that just went on a couple days ago seems to have held up though..

    But we did lose power for about 3 hours when the wind knocked a line somewhere out of whack. Luckily, the crock pot had already been going all afternoon when that happened!

  12. Like Graeme’s folks, were in Louisville. We have power, with only a few flickers, but we’re decidedly lucky. Most of our larger area is down and has been all day, while the plant where my husband works has called him in three freakin’ times to fix various things gone wrong from the wind and outages.

    I told him if he died in a wreck because they made him drive in this I was going to dismember the person who called him in – and that he should pass the comment on to his coworkers.

  13. The actual conversation that took place only 5 hours ago:

    Me: Padre, it’s hurricaning outside.
    My dad: You live in Cleveland… Hurricane Ike hit Texas. You shouldn’t have anything more than some rain and a few gusts of wind.
    Me: It’s raining sideways. And it got really dark really fast. And the trees are all rustley. And we’ve got warnings about 50 mph winds, which I didn’t believe until I went outside and almost blew away.
    My dad: Oh.

  14. My wife and I are also in Louisville. They’re saying it could take up to a week to get all 300,000 customers’ power back. I work at the newspaper here, and according to the fact box we are running tomorrow, all of the food in my fridge is already unsafe to eat. Apparently, that only takes 4-6 hours. The freezer is good for a day, though. Two if it’s totally full. Which mine is not.
    We will be living out of cans this week, I think.
    OK, time to head home, where there will be nothing to do but read until I head to work tomorrow night. Hey, that’s not too bad.

  15. Glad you only suffered a little tree damage. My wife flew into Dayton this morning on a long-planned trip to visit her parents in Kettering. When I spoke with her an hour ago, the power had been out for six hours, with no sign of it coming back anytime soon.

  16. Yikes. My parents are over by Wright-Patt. They just got back from vacation and the power was out when they arrived home. (It’s still not back on.)

  17. for Cincinnatians the silver lining was being mercifully unable to watch the Bengals game because of the power outage

  18. Also being in San Antonio, I can echo Jenne: barely any rain in the area, a nice breeze, and that was about it. Considering that as late as Wednesday, they were warning everyone to stock up on supplies because we were likely to get hammered, that’s a relief and oddly disappointing at the same time.

    Ike steered into the Midwest because there was a ginormous high pressure center over Louisiana that yanked Ike off its track and moved it clockwise in a big loop over Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and then to the northeast from there. It was the combination of that high and a cold front coming in from the northwest that shoved Ike north instead of west, dumping rain all over Houston and Dallas instead of Austin and San Antonio.

    The tropics are quiet right now, but I’m expecting to see another two or three big storms threaten us before the year is over. Probably won’t have to dip into the Greek alphabet, though.

  19. Most SF writers, thinking of the idea of directing hurricanes using even Googlemaps would have written the story before mentioning it in public.

    What? You already have? Great.

  20. Eeeyup. Himmicanes be weird . . . you got more damage than we did here in Dallas. And I WANT a new roof . . .

    But chainsaw work (if you don’t have to do it all day) is kinda fun . . .

  21. We got it late last night in Rochester NY. The tree wasn’t split down the middle, but did loose many small branches and we’re going to have to get someone to cut some major ones as well. Power out all over the place.

  22. John, could you check your yard for pieces of my roof? Some of it came off when Ike hit us down here in Houston. I just thank my lucky stars I got my power back so quickly. I love living in Houston, but the hurricanes suck…er, I mean blow. Whatever, you get the picture.

  23. We got pummeled here in Dayton, too. Trees and fences down all over the ‘hood, roof shingles gone, and the power flaked on and off, but it stayed ON for the most part (yay!). Now all the schools are closed, but boy does it feel like fall out there now :)

    Oh, and if that is a Bradford pear, give up the ghost. We had one in our front yard, half of it went kablooie in a storm years ago, and the other half wasn’t far behind. They’re wimpy.

  24. Apparently, 90% of the Cincinnati area was without power at some point during the storm. My house was still without power when I left for work a little after 8:30 this morning. The nearest traffic light had power, and the office has power, but the mall in between does not have power. I live less than 5 miles from my office.

    Oh, and the Bungles? Maybe they’ll finally get that elusive perfect season: 0 and 16. Of course, they’ll blame yesterday on the wind, or lack of electricity at the stadium, or something other than they’re a lousy football team…

  25. I’ve never seen such high winds in Columbus that lasted so long. Now I’m trying to figure out why the power goes out in residential neighborhoods but works just fine at my place of employment. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

  26. If that’s a Bradford Pear (and it does indeed look like one), then I’m surprised that it hasn’t split already during a winter ice/snow storm. IMO, the best thing to do with a Bradford pear is… chop it up for firewood and plant something else. The pears are weak, short-lived, and smell bad in the Spring. The volunteer seedlings that Bradford’s produce are nasty invasive weeds in the woods.

    Unfortunately, a wound that large means the tree will always be asymmetric and therefore more subject to further damage in the the next windstorm.

  27. DGLewis @ 10

    Thanks! I was trying to track this on the radar and what looked like it was hitting us up here in NE Ohio wasn’t Ike but the storm that was crossing Michigan (waves at Dr. Phil) earlier in the week. When John said he was getting pounded too, I got confused.

  28. I was thinking it was a Bradford pear, too. I have–HAD–4 in my yard, but 2 took so much breakage they weren’t salvageable. The other two are hanging in there, but both have had limbs fall off. Pretty trees in the spring, though, but sort of wimpy. One of my neighbors asked me how many times my trees had been hit by lightning. I told her none, it was just the rot and patch. Sometimes they didn’t even fall when it was windy or raining. They. Just. Did.

  29. Here in the Dallas area we just got a slightly rainy Saturday out of it.

    And I second/third/whatever the comments on the tree being what ? A Bradford Pear or some other kind of fruit tree ? They’re really structurally weak, lost a lot of them in our neighborhood about six months or so ago when we had a night of 50+ mph winds.

    Lousy trees, wouldn’t let one in my yard. We have Live Oaks and Red Oaks…

  30. Extended power outages are a great chance to get the refrigerator really really clean. It’s much easier to scrub out all the little cracks and crannies when it’s completely empty. And since you are completely broke from replacing all the food, you can’t afford to go out anyway.

  31. I’m in the DFW area as well, and we hunkered in for the storm and then saw just a nice, soaking rain.

    Glad you and yours are okay.

  32. Since I criticized your poor wounded tree, I guess I should suggest some replacements for when it inevitably shuffles off this mortal coil. Assuming you want another small, Spring-blooming tree with white flowers, check out the following:

    If you looooove the pear, then look for other cultivars of Pyrus calleryana with more horizontal branches. It’s partly the very acute angle of the branches that makes the Bradfords so weak. IIRC, ‘Capital’ and ‘Aristocrat’ are recommended.

    Native crabapples (Malus species) and Hawthorns (Crataegus species) include white flowering cultivars, and many Crataegus also have colorful fruit.

    For white flowers slightly later in the Spring and nice red fruit in autumn, go with our native dogwood, Cornus florida. Kousa dogwoods from Asia bloom much later. Also look for alba (white blooming) variants of the native redbud, Cercis canadensis. These guys won’t be as heat/drought tolerant as the pear, though.

    Serviceberry (Amelanchier species and hybrids) usually have white flowers in early spring, and many have edible berries.

    If your winters are warm enough for silverbells, Halesia diptera and H. tetraptera are very nifty.

  33. I had sent this email to friends and family – I hope you don’t mind me posting it here – I just think it was really ironic your post today referenced Google Maps and Ike! (Anyone who has anything they would like to add to the map, please feel free!)


    My parents live in Galveston, literally just behind the shopping center where the Weather Channel has been broadcasting all day. After being evacuated for 2 weeks after Katrina, knowing Slidell had serious damage, I know how desperate one becomes for any source of accurate information.

    I originally started a Google Map so I could show friends and family where certain “landmarks” were, like my parent’s house, my childhood home, and the place I got married. Today I started adding screenshots from the web, and links to video – anything I could reasonably
    pinpoint to within a few blocks of where it was taken.

    Upon careful consideration, I have decided to share this with a slightly wider audience – my friends on several forums. Where it will go from there I don’t know. But I have enabled it for open editing, and if it ends up helping someone at least KNOW, then I have paid it forward a little bit.

    So if you have any screenshots or video that you can link to a specific spot on Galveston Island, please feel free to add it to my map. (Well, I have been keeping it to Galveston just to give myself some focus. I guess you can actually add for anywhere!) The official “links” keep breaking, so just go to Google Maps and search for “Galveston from a Conway Perspective.” (Conway being my maiden name.)

    Thank you for your help and for the love, prayers and positive energy directed at all vicims of Ike, Gustav, Katrina, Rita and all Hurricanes and disasters, natural and otherwise.

  34. Bear in mind I do not really think Ike used Google Maps to find my house to beat up on my tree.

    You might want to check with Stephen Baxter on that..

  35. I work in the Chicago suburbs, and I’ve had the day off today because our workplace is still essentially surrounded by a lake that was once streets. Ike had some serious reach.

  36. Another comment on bradford pears. You’ve got to keep them from growing that way in the first place. The tree in the picture has far too many branches coming out of the same place. Bradfords do grow back spectacularly quickly from a break like that, but if you want it to last be sure to prune it without mercy.

    Cleveland pears look similar but are less susceptible to breaking. My parents’ house in Fairborn had 2 Bradfords and 3 Clevelands. The Clevelands are all fine. One Bradford lasted one season; the other Bradford blew completely down or half down or 3/4 down four times before they finally gave up on it.

  37. John – Do you have power? I’m in Kettering (not far from both Books & Co.) and our neighborhood lost power about 3:30 pm yesterday. We’re still without power near 4pm Monday. A friend in Columbus lost power, and said their local power company sent lots of extra guys to TX, so they’re saying they might be w/o power for about a week…

    It’s been a tough day around here. There are lots of trees and parts of trees down in our neighborhood. The guy across the street had the neighbor’s large Mulberry tree fall on the backside of his roof. His folks, siblings & friends came over with chainsaws last night and again this morning. It was one mucking big tree. He said it was like the tree had an elbow into the roof.

    We were lucky – no big trees, no neighbor’s big trees, just lots of wind. I was in the outside edge hurricane in Florida a few years ago, and this felt the same as that.

    The local TV stations went off the air – they had the network feed, but nothing from the stations. One station lost some roof tiles – the anchor sounded shaken when he was reporting.

    We have a small gas-powered generator, and are keeping the ‘fridge cold. The small freezer downstairs had lots of frost in it, so it has some additional ice to go with the frozen food. :) We’re powering the ‘Fridge, a small icemaker, the internet router and the laptop. (already charged the cell phones) You need to keep your priorities straight. :) We’ll watch the news on the battery TV, then who knows what we’ll do tonight?

  38. In Central Ohio there was lots of wind. I was at the zoo when the winds hit and the power went out and thoughts of Jurassic Park came to mind. However, the Columbus Zoo does not depend on electric fences to contain their raptors.

    Power is out for 300,000 or more people. No school today due to lack of power and, in my district, a few roads still blocked by downed trees and lines. Since my wife works with computers she is off work until power is restored at her work place. (The did not get the coal-fired back-up computers she suggested.)

    Lots of trees and power lines down but not much damage to buildings. A nearby mulching operation had the wind whip up a fire in one of the windrows of shredded wood, which is just a strange weather-related accident.
    BTW, I am without power but the nearby library branch is up and running and I am using their wireless access to get on the web.

  39. As ugly as it was in Houston when I left yesterday at noon, I feel sorry for my friend in Columbus.
    After commiserating with me, and offering a little help in phoning/computering for me, she is now without power, and myself offering her help.
    Oh, and thanking Ohio for sending all of their electrical workers to Houston. Er. Actually, sorry about that Ohio!!

  40. “Bear in mind I do not really think Ike used Google Maps to find my house to beat up on my tree.”

    If it had there would have been one of those big orange balloon signs sticking out of the ground.

  41. Here in the Chicago area, we were fortunate to have been missed by the wind. We weren’t spared the record-setting rains, though…

  42. Relatives in Houston survived, but are without power and using a neighbor’s generator (at least until the gas runs out).

    Big chunks of Oxford, Ohio are still without power. The home office for an organizations I belong to is in Oxford near the university, and they’re closed until they get power turned back on.

    And here in Atlanta it was hot and humid and the promised rain never did come…

  43. Our house in southwestern PA was without power for about 44 hours after the remnants of Ike blew through Sunday evening. That’s even more Google miles from the Gulf than Ohio.

    It wasn’t my problem though – I’m visiting relatives in Massachusetts this week. We had a breezy Monday up here but no damage from Ike.

  44. I’ve got all that, and more, in my back yard. But, then, I’m only about 75-100 miles from Galveston Island (ie. Ground Zero). I just got power back yesterday. There are a few pictures, too.

  45. John, down here in Tomball (just outside of Houston) just got DSL back. Power is still out 5 days later, but thanks to my generator I have DSL, cold beer and Hurricane IKE coffee (click to read).

    Fence blew down, one tree snapped, several shingles off and some water damage in my study. But family is okay and house is still standing.

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