Thursday, December 1, 2011

Davis County Winds

Well, we know what the results of a "Category 2" look like now. I don't know what it feels like, because I missed it. I just got home from a few days with the Ute Tribe in Ft. Duchesne, Utah, and with their attorneys in Colorado.  On the way in we stopped at Arby's in Spanish Fork where a got a free meal because their power was flickering and they couldn't read my card.

Still, I'm a witness to the aftermath here in Davis County with at least a third of the signs down in Centerville's commercial district on Parrish Lane. There are some roofs missing over gas station pumps, and trees down everywhere. A few are down on houses. Some are down on power lines. Ours are still up but our blue spruce out front whipped off all the Christmas lights. And while the gate to our fence that I have repaired at least a dozen times is still up, there are several other segments of the fence missing. I told the guy next door that we'll have to be better neighbors now. He responded that he'll have to start wearing something when he's in the hot tub. TMI!

Our fence (well, part of it). Note the neighbor's hot tub.

Our married daughter and grandsons just arrived because they don't have any power in Farmington. Ours just came on a couple of hours ago. My daughter reports that while their house is OK, they have neighbors with fallen chimneys and roof damage. I was hoping that maybe our roof might be damaged just enough to make an insurance claim to get new shingles that I know I'll have to replace at some point, but maybe not for a while yet as we didn't lose a single one. Our storage shed is another matter with nearly all the shingles off the windward side. We will have to deal with that this Saturday hopefully before any snow flies.

I remembered that I had a family history episode concerning Davis County's East Winds. I have an oral history from my Mom's Aunt Eva May Peterson Briggs  (1903-1991) that I transcribed as part of the story of my Great Grandmother, Addie May Wood Peterson (1880-1909):
We lived over in a house that was right across the, right next door to the South Bountiful Meeting House.  And, now this is before Mama died. And I remember one time there was a real bad east wind – a terrible east wind.  And in those days, we have east winds now but they’re not like that was. And they were just building the South Bountiful Chapel.  And my father was helping build the chapel.  And I remember this east wind came up and it was blowing the porches and the lean-tos and everything off of the houses and some of the roofs.  So Mama and Dad were pretty worried about us getting hurt.  So I remember – Joe was born then too – Joe was born in that house.  And I remember they wrapped me and Joe up in blankets and Mama and Dad, each of them with a baby in their arms, locked arms with each other and went over from our place over to the chapel and they went down in the basement of the chapel.  And that’s where we spent the night while the east wind was blowing.  And the funny part of it was the next morning we got up and I don’t especially remember too much about this but I do remember when we went back home, the porch was blown off our house. So, but that was the only thing that happened. 
The South Bountiful Meeting House was dedicated in 1904. Uncle Joe was born 29 December, 1905. So if Aunt Eva remembers this correctly that Joe was a baby, and she only three, even if just after the South Bountiful Meeting House was dedicated, the time frame would likely be 1906. I did a search of the Davis County Clipper at Utah Digital Newspapers online. The best references to Davis County east winds that year follow:

From July 6, 1906:

The East Wind Monday Night Damaged
the Farmers of Davis County
Thousands of Dollars
The east wind Monday night that visited the several towns of the county did thousands of dollars damage. It blew off so much fruit, both green and ripe, blew over trees and fences and spoiled considerable small fruit and gave tomato vines and similar plants in some localities such a twisting that they will not soon get over it.
In Centreville [sic]it blew off a large quantity of cherries for Brown Bros. They had just begun picking their best varieties and their earlier kinds had not yet been picked
And from October 26, 1906:
When the recent windstorm was raging, Miss Giles, daughter of Nephi Giles, [ ] six men removed her from her home to another building for safety. Shortly after the change had been made, the Giles' home collapsed. It was a nice brick building and had only been erected this summer.
My wife just called to let me know that when she took our 17-year-old son who was called into work at the McDonald's at WalMart in Centerville because they have power and are getting swamped with traffic from people who don't and can't cook at home. They asked if he would deliver pick up some meat to from the McDonald's in Woods Cross. So our Toyota mini-van was put to the service of the Great and Abominable. Maybe I am glad I ate at Arby's in Spanish Fork after all.

My geographical theory is that the winds are so bad in Davis County because the Wasatch Range is a bit lower along this stretch than it is both to the north and south of us. Any cold winds on the high plains of Wyoming that have to surge to California to fill a low pressure zone are naturally funneled through here on their way.

When we were transferred to Utah, both times, I purposely wanted to live in Davis County in part because of the connection I could make with my ancestors. I maybe should have thought a little more about that East Wind thing.

Addendum (same day):

I did a little more searching and found this from the Clipper:

October 18, 1907:
we have been requested to print the exact date of the east wind last fall. It started Saturday night, Oct. 20th and blew all day Sun. Oct. 21st and Sun. night.
As this was requested nearly a year later, it must have been to record a significant event such as the wind that caused my Great Grandparents to flee to the refuge of the South Bountiful Chapel basement. Sadly, the Chapel was hit by lightning and burned to the ground on July 21, 1951. At least it was a refuge from the storm when my family needed it!

More on wind damage at the Bountiful Cemetery here.

And more from the Clipper's reporting on the 1906 East Wind (or "Easter") here.

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