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For the week of May 3 through May 9, 2000

Wind burst blows down pine tree

Tree falls down - goes boom

This 60-foot-high pine tree, slammed by a sudden wind, crashed atop four cars Thursday evening in McHanville just south of Dean Tire & Automotive. Two autos were damaged. There were no injuries. “The sky was black for two or three minutes like a mini-tornado was blowing in,” said company owner Brent Anderson.

Express Staff Writer

A weather phenomenon meteorologists call a "micro burst" blasted through the Wood River Valley Thursday evening, toppling a 60-foot-tall pine tree next to Dean Tire & Automotive south of Ketchum.

No injuries resulted from the falling tree which crushed a Ketchum Flower Co. van and damaged a second vehicle in McHanville.

Dean Tire owner Brent Anderson said he got a call from the Blaine County Sheriff’s Department at about 7:30 p.m. informing him of the fallen tree.

Anderson, who was in Hailey, said a huge black cloud came in and headed north over the valley.

"The sky was black for two or three minutes like a mini- tornado was blowing in," Anderson said. "The thing just caught that tree and snapped it off three or four feet from the ground."

Anderson said insurance companies classify weather related incidents such as micro bursts as an "Act of God" in which no one is held liable. He said his insurance company would pay for the damages.

Wanda Glasmann, who lives next to Dean Tire, said she was watching television when the wind started blowing.

"All of a sudden the tree was on its side," Glasmann said. "It was just standing there a minute before."

Glasmann, who has lived in the Wood River Valley for 31 years, said short-lived micro bursts, or wind shears, are common in the valley.

"We get them here a lot," she said. "The wind kicks up and then it’s gone."

National Weather Service meteorologist Brent Wachter said his Pocatello office had not received a report of the incident, but that the same storm had churned up 60 mile-per-hour winds in Challis to the north.

Wachter described the storm cell that moved through central Idaho as "a dry micro burst." Micro bursts are generated by cool air aloft which creates a heavy air mass in the upper atmosphere, he said.

"Updrafts can’t support the cooler, heavier air which eventually turns into a downdraft or micro burst," Wachter said. "All that energy coming down can create strong winds which can be significant, but don’t last long."


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