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Old 10-01-2010, 02:29 PM   #1
pondhopper
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1950 Windfall: "Microburst", Nor'easterner. or other?

Many times, in the past, while traveling with elders in the western Adirondacks- we'd hit a dense section of fallen trees & often, the downed timber would be blamed on "The Hurricane of 1950". Which, was said to have arrived with an easterly blow and the trees had the densest root systems for bracing against a more common westerly direction & hence, many trees fell in widespread areas & must, have been similar looking to the more current "Microburst of 1995" in some places. For example: the area around the west side of Dismal Pond in the 5 Ponds area was very dense & nearly impenetrable- until about the mid to late 1970's when the new growth in the downed areas finally became large enough to provide open avenues through to the pond.

Thanks to NOAA's new historic hurricane tracking site: http://csc-s-maps-q.csc.noaa.gov/hurricanes/ - it's apparent there was no hurricane in 1950. So, I thought, I'd save some time searching around & ask here if anyone knows what kind of storm system it was- Microburst aka windfall, or other?

Just a little curiosity & thanks in advance for any relevant info.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:40 PM   #2
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"Powerful Northeaster"

I've always heard it described as a hurricane as well and being the most devastating event since the wildfires of the turn of the century - until I had the "pleasure" of experiencing firsthand the 1995 Derecho!

From http://www.apa.state.ny.us/Research/...950%20Blowdown

McMartin (1994) writes about this storm:

" known as the big blowdown, it struck in November of 1950, and did the most damage in the western and central Adirondacks. This powerful northeaster affected 420,000 acres and was said to have caused a loss that ranged from a quarter of the trees to the entire forest cover. The loss was estimated at two million cords of softwood and forty million board feet of hardwood. The Cold River country between Seward and Santanoni experienced the greatest destruction, followed closely by the Moose River Plains, but private tracts such as 60,000-acre Whitney Park, parts of the Adirondack League Club property, or Finch Pruyn's 183,000-acre holdings were also severely damaged.

The storm was particularly devastating to old-growth forests. The wind came from the east and northeast, while the mature trees had grown wind-firm in the direction of more normal west winds. Because spruce had shallow roots making it prone to wind damage and because it towered above the canopy of hardwoods, this most prized species was stripped from most virgin stands as well as some from State land that had been logged a half century or more earlier."
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:49 PM   #3
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Hey, thanks fisher39!

That was fast & it was worth hanging around a few minutes. Hmmm, maybe I should buy one or two of those McMartin books & Discover the Adirondacks series, someday.
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
Many times, in the past, while traveling with elders in the western Adirondacks- we'd hit a dense section of fallen trees & often, the downed timber would be blamed on "The Hurricane of 1950".
I started going hunting with my dad in the early 60's, and at that time we were going to the area SW of Stillwater. I recall seeing many massive trunks of downed trees throughout the area that Dad said were from the windstorm of 1950. Over the years I noted seeing them slowly decay and become linear mounds of moss. I don't recall if the word "hurricane" was ever used, but I think I always assumed that is what it was. Every once in a while today I'll see that same long soft shape and wonder if it is still a visible remnant.

BTW, when I started doing my own deep backcountry bushwhacks some years later, Dismal Pond was one of my first truly deep woods destinations. I'll never forget how difficult a trek it was, yet how satisfying it was to navigate exactly to where I wanted to be (M&C only of course). The first image of seeing that pond with its standing dead trees stays with me. I thought it very appropriately named. Since then I've been back to visit several times on different approach routes, paddled on it too, and saw a moose cow and calf wading in the waters.
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Old 10-01-2010, 04:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by pondhopper View Post
Hey, thanks fisher39!

That was fast & it was worth hanging around a few minutes. Hmmm, maybe I should buy one or two of those McMartin books & Discover the Adirondacks series, someday.
You're welcome! The McMartin books are fantastic. I've got The Great Forest of the Adirondacks and The Privately Owned Adirondacks, and plan on getting all the others at some point in time.
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:10 PM   #6
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1950 Blowdown

My dad was working for the Conservation Department in 1950 and he always referred to it as the "Blowdown." We lived in Herkimer at the time and even there it was a big storm. I have some old 8mm movies of my dad and a crew clearing roads after the storm in the North Lake area.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:33 PM   #7
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Memory's a little fuzzy, but upon reflection, I do remember it being referred to as "The Blowdown of 1950", also. Not sure when hurricane became more prevalent here - maybe, the later generations are/were guilty of using the term more. 8mm movies of its aftermath are a rare & interesting commodity to have.

Paul, Dismal, although still rarely visited, was definitely, visited less a decade & more ago. Even with the camp a few miles away. Believe me, many of the people from there were not so adventurous then & it's possibly, related to the advent of the GPS, not sure. It's very rare, but sometimes I still, hit small sections of toppled trees from the event laying with the root systems facing east & trunks laying west...must be because of location & humidity etc. that they are later to decay. Mainly, the only visible remains are thick bands of of relatively small spruce & one of those places is the area west of Crooked Lake, I warned Colden about in the past etc.
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Old 10-02-2010, 10:59 AM   #8
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I've allways heard it refered to " The Blowdown" as well .
My Dad hunted in an area near where Roys road clearing movies were taken in herkimer county . His first visit was in '47 he was 17 and hunted the same area for the rest of his life . Him and the other long timers in the area talked about walking hundreds of yards at a stretch and never stepping on the ground . Easier to stay on top of the fallen trees than to climb up and over them all.
Made for a great deer population explosion when the new growth started up
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