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Wild Winds Whip

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

We have high wind advisories here in Vermont today and tomorrow, with winds 20-30 mph and gusts up to 55 mph. It makes for rough sleeping, as my house in the valley groans with the winds wailing outside. But it’s really nothing. Gusts of 115 mph hit the top of Mt. Mansfield on October 30, 2017. Trees were down everywhere in neighboring towns. Power was out and for some here in the north country, they were still without power five days later. I saw this minor disruption as an adventure. If the winds down here in the valley were rocking my house, Squabetty would have been creaking wildly as the winds down sloped through Thunder Basin. Had I been there, I likely would have retreated to an interior bathroom to wait out the onslaught. But the next day, the sun peaked out and all was well. The long drive up the mountain was far better than I had imagined. The old stately larch which rockets skyward next to the porch stood sentinel and only gave up one small branch. We’ve had windstorms in the past that have decimated acres of trees. In 2010, a microburst, wind shear or small tornado leveled 4 acres of trees near the gate and many more acres on the neighbors’ land. Some 30 years ago, a wind event snapped dozens of red pines which my grandfather had planted in the 1960s. The trees lined the upper part of the driveway and as a child, were the tell-tale sign we were almost at the house. That brutal wind took out 95% of the pines, making the driveway a lumber field of Lincoln logs piled in a mess. And while the trees were cleaned up within a week, a sadness set in that the next generation, my children, would never have that excitement at seeing these rows and rows of tall, thin trees. And so it is that this land has taken its fair share of weather events that reshaped the landscape. The harshness of Mother Nature has made the remaining trees strong and stubborn. The wild winds of October 30, 2017, buffeted the old place, as they will today and tomorrow. But Squabetty and its surrounds stand strong- testament to its enduring legacy.

The hurricane of 1940 took off the barn roof. Wild winds are no stranger to the western slopes of Mount Mansfield.

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