Thunderstorm of May 29, 2009

Gambrills, Maryland

This storm had all of the trappings of a hurricane, except that it lasted for 45 minutes
rather than two or three days.

rose 1

We count ourselves lucky. A number of Leona’s rose bushes were lifted out of the ground slightly
and left askew. This large rose bush has several canes bent or broken.

rose 2
Another rose bushes partially lifted out of the ground and listing about 30° to starboard.

rose 3
Due to a wet spring, Leona’s roses were absolutely weighted down with flowers; it has been her best year
yet for roses. Nearly every rose was stripped off all the bushes in a period of just a few minutes today.

In the woods a couple of hundred feet behind our house many tall trees were snapped
like matchsticks. The branches that are hanging at the wrong angle to the left of this
snapped-off tree are part of the broken-off top of another tree.

One of our neighbors fared much worse than us. All three of his Bradford Pear trees were
severely damaged. Bradford Pear trees are infamous for being unable to withstand wind
storms. The trees are native to China and are considered by many arborists to be an
invasive species. They are easy to grow and they spread easily as birds carry their seeds
in their droppings. The Bradford Pear’s small, hard fruit is not eaten by humans. The attraction
of the Bradford Pear is easily seen below. The trees have a perfect shape and their flowers in
spring, the summer foliage, and their long-lasting fall foliage make them irresistible to
many homeowners. They are disease and blight resistant and are much more likely to suffer
wind damage (as noted!) than to succumb to other causes.

This had been our neighbor’s fourth Bradford Pear tree until it was lost to Hurricane
Isabel in 2003. I made this photo in 1999. As you can see, digital cameras have come
a long way in the past 10 years.

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