You’ve probably seen the story of the ice cream truck that got crushed by a falling tree in Kalamazoo on Saturday. I checked the weather observations from the weather station at the Kalamazoo Airport and they had a peak wind gust of 36 mph. The airport is about four miles east-southeast of where the tree fell. While it’s not impossible that the wind could have been a little stronger on Springmont Ave. – the better chance is that gusts of 30-36 were more likely in that neighborhood. Normally, gusts like that are not strong enough to bring down whole trees or even large branches. If you look at the video we showed Monday evening, you can see the tree was pretty rotten and due to fall. Kalamazoo didn’t have a wind gust over 30 mph from Sept. 17. During that time it was hot and dry with less than a quarter of an inch of rain from Sept. 20-Oct. 5.
I saw this very thing happen when I was in college. I used to ride by bicycle to the zoo in Madison WI and find a quiet place to read and study. On a warm, sunny fall day with only a faint breeze, I saw a very large limb come crashing to the ground, barely missing a little girl (and an elephant, who seem quite unfazed by the event). Same thing…the limb was rotten inside and it weakened to the point where it came down, even in a wind of less than 10 mph. This article says “they can come crashing down even on a calm day, according to the USDA Forest Service”
I’m glad the driver and the girls were OK.