Friday, November 02, 2012

Teen filmmakers capture the horror of trees toppling during Sandy without special effects

Two teen filmmakers captured horrifying footage of threes falling during Hurricane Sandy. Both sequences seem to come from communities on Long Island (or at least New York State).
John Mateer filmed three trees near the family house, one hitting a car, the dog barking, and then a fire breaking out nearby.  If this wasn’t real, it would look like a scene from a typical Hollywood “B movie”.
John starts with “This Is the Apocalypse”. 

Matthew Weinschreider showed a free falling away from the family house gradually.  First the ground heaves, almost like in special effects, and then the tree roots are lifted out by the leverage of the entire free by 60 mph winds.  The saturated soil, even with a grassy covering, cannot hold the tree.

Matt’s link is here.

John and Matt  appear on Katie Couric here.

Other people have done a lot of mashups with these two videos.

There are some other original videos of trees falling (mostly from Long Island, some in New Jersey) and one comment is that “we’re nowhere near the eye”.   In some of them, houses are damaged.  A massive tree can cut through a frame house and destroy it. 

Indeed, winds were stronger along southern New England, 150 miles from the center than they were in Washington DC.  That’s partly because they are coming just off the water, and partly because winds are usually strongest northeast of the center of a cyclone. 

The “kids” (Mateer and Weinschreider)  ought to collaborate, edit the two sequences (Mateer’s is mostly “vertical” in aspect), and submit the material to short film festivals.  I guess they can  both say “I am Rogue” (the legal wordmark for Rogue Pictures, part of Universal and Relativity Media, focusing often on horror films).  Maybe Hollywood could use this footage in a commercial horror film (and pay for it).   
Should building codes for new homes in wooded areas include strength (such as metal framing) requirements to resist tree damage?  Metal framing is said to make houses tornado resistant.  Given climate change, we have to think carefully about making new requirements for more robust construction.

Pictures: Roots on an old, massive swamp maple near my house; upper branches show severe damage from previous storms (especially a microburst in November 2010), shortening the tree and preventing any liontailing.  The previous damage, ironically, probably prevented the tree from toppling during Sandy, but it looks precarious to me.  Trees whose branches break during brief but strong thunderstorms, however, may be less likely to fall over completely later after prolonged  “soil saturation” events like tropical storms or strong “noreasters”.  No cairns here. 

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