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unexplained destruction

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#1
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 09:43 AM

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Let's try this again. I looked for the method of inserting an image and lost my last introduction.

 

Here is a little bit about myself. I'm a 68 year old grandfather. I am the president of PCS VacDry. I had one course of meteorology in college.

 

A small river named Pine Creek runs through our front yard. We have had canopies there for 30 years. I have had them tied down thoroughly and never lost one to wind.

 

This happened last fall. It was a clear, sunny and "crisp" day. I don't know what the temperature was. Right after lunch, my wife went out to do some shopping. When she returned an hour or so later, she found the canopy totally destroyed. 

 

Here are pictures to show you what I'm talking about.

Attached Files


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#2
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 09:57 AM

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As you can see in the first picture, the canopy is right in front of you as you go down the driveway.

 

In the satellite image, the arrow points to the canopy. I was in my office at the VacDry kilns building. To the left off my Miata is a ramp down to the creek. Our location is 41.2020'N,77.2644'W

 

Now lets look at what Patti found when she got home from shopping.

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#3
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 10:07 AM

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Now here is where things start to get weird. The picnic table is 8' of treated lumber and must weigh 100 lbs. I have always had a rope from the ridge down to the table. The table ended upside down.

 

Thirty or 40 feet away, a Kevlar canoe was sitting and it never moved.

 

One of the "feet" from the bottom of a pole was still sitting very nearly where it started. It looked like the canopy went straight up.

 

And stuff that was under the canopy was largely untouched.

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#4
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 10:59 AM

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The material of the cover is 3-layer polyethylene with rip-stop in the middle. It was torn from end to end along the ridge.

 

The poles were 1.375" steel. I put the white tape at the joints when I was setting it up to keep them from coming apart again. Almost all ended up bent. The second picture shows one of our get-togethers and the positions of the poles.

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#5
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 11:14 AM

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I have many more pictures that I may add if there is a need. Right now I'd like to mention another discussion. I belong to a Miata forum and they have an "off topic" area like most. I started a discussion there. A guy named Ted offered this.

 

The term "dust devil" isn't much used in the eastern US because it's something that happens mainly on open arid land with intense solar exposure. Microburst is closer but incomplete because it refers specifically to a small focused downdraft. I don't know if there's a term other than the broad "waterspout" for a mini tornado that follows streams but I've seen them. They wobble and sometimes flick up onto the banks briefly before dissipating or returning to water. And little twisters (dust devils where it isn't very dusty) happen. In the 1970s I was working at a manufactured housing plant in North Carolina when one touched the holding yard. A doublewide half sitting on tires & hitch was tipped over while a big unbound stack of 2x4s right beside it was undisturbed
 
Ted's suggestion was that a little twister came off the warm water of the creek and traveled up the ramp and destroyed the canopy.
 
Meanwhile, there is a meteorologist there that says that it is not possible that wind did this damage.
 
I don't know what you saw, but your description doesn't match the the atmospheric physics that would be at work here.
 
Yes, you need a thermal differential to form a devil, but Rocky mountain stream temperature would be very cold before a "sharp cold front", say 40F. Even if a cold front was 20F, and you had a 20 degree differential, and it persisted long enough to possibly form a vertical column of air: the horizontal wind speed associated with the sharp cold front would be very high and too strong to enable the vertical updraft due to a thermal differential to form/maintain itself. Plus, the speed of stream water would also dampen any vertical updraft over the stream. It would carry the base of the vertical column of rising air, down stream, stretching it out of shape to its death.
 
But let's say in this case, a creek-devil did form. That the temperature differential between water and air was high enough to create an updraft. Plus, the motion of the water was weak enough to not stretch the column of air. Plus the motion of the air was strong enough to move the creek-devil on shore to the campground canopy/picnic table. This creek-devil (surface based and not dropping down from a cloud on this sunny day) would then need to be large enough to destroy the canopy AND lift/flip the large heavy table yet not displace the the items under the canopy. Recall, OP said they were still in place. Being the lightest items in the destruction zone they should have been thrown to the far corners of the earth had wind (horizontal or rotational) been at work here. (Google Beaufort wind scale for empirical effects due to wind speed).
 
Two things make this operational/research meteorologist think this was not a wind driven event:
No displacement of items under the canopy despite canopy destruction and table movement.
No indication of weather according to OP to cause a wind event: sunny, not windy, not stormy.
 
So the meteorologist says that it had to be vandals. Looking at the destruction and the fact that it happened in my front yard in the middle of the day makes it impossible for me to believe that vanals are even a remote possibility.
 
Does anybody have any idea about what happened?


#6
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 11:32 AM

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This has been in my head for months and I keep thinking of information to add. The canopy was rotated at least 180 degrees. The solar panel that had been at the left ended up on the right. So from the picnic table being upside down showing that the canopy was lifted plus rotated, what could do that?

 

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#7
Mr Marine Layer

Posted 24 March 2019 - 05:05 PM

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Hmm. Maybe a small meteorite hit it or something.



#8
Den Socling

Posted 24 March 2019 - 07:14 PM

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I don't think it was a hit from above. The canopy and table were lifted.



#9
SilverFallsAndrew

Posted 26 March 2019 - 06:39 PM

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My first impression is that it was the work of vandals. It would take quite a bit of wind to cause that type of damage which makes a dust devil or something similar unlikely IMO. Looks like a beautiful area/property. 


Snowfall                                  Precip

2018-19: 63.5"                   2018-19: 66.33"

2017-18: 30.3"                   2017-18: 59.83"

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#10
Den Socling

Posted 26 March 2019 - 07:08 PM

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I was looking at the bent poles. The ones with duct tape on both ends would be the rafters. The ones with tape on only one end would have been the vertical poles. The vertical poles were bent at positions that were 6' off the ground. And look at the rafters. Again, these were one and three eighth inch diameter steel. The high end of the rafters were ~10' off the ground. What kind of vandal could do that? I know that wind sounds like a crazy idea but if you saw this canopy, you would think that vandals was a crazy idea. How much force would be required to bend the poles 90 degrees? I don't know anybody who could bend one let alone all of those in the pictures.

 

And yes, it is beautiful front yard. I have already bought an identical canopy.



#11
Den Socling

Posted 26 March 2019 - 07:22 PM

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And look at these broken ropes. I had it tied down with many.

 

 

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#12
Phil

Posted 26 March 2019 - 07:39 PM

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What was the exact day that this happened? Was it breezy at all? Because I’ve had moderately breezy days produce random turbulent eddies that throw my deck furniture around on a relatively frequent basis.

Here’s an example, just this last fall. A perpendicular crossdraft got under the table @ 0:15 and flipped it along with a chair.



It definitely could be vandals, but if it was, the fact they didn’t take anything is sort of stupid.

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#13
Den Socling

Posted 26 March 2019 - 07:52 PM

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I don't immediately know the exact day but I could go back through my emails to find it.

 

It was a calm day with little or no wind.



#14
Den Socling

Posted 26 March 2019 - 07:54 PM

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It was November 11, 2018.

 

I had that in my email to NOAA.



#15
Phil

Posted 26 March 2019 - 08:44 PM

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I don't immediately know the exact day but I could go back through my emails to find it.

It was a calm day with little or no wind.


Interesting. Because, coincidentally, that video I took was on November 10th, which was the day before your mystery. Are you sure it didn’t happen on the 10th?

My hunch still is either a turbulent eddy/hot pocket, or mechanical disturbance by vandals being another possibility. Because I’m fairly certain it wasn’t a whirlwind. Not on a cold day such as that..the thermodynamics wouldn’t allow for something like that to happen.

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#16
Phil

Posted 26 March 2019 - 08:56 PM

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I remember that day (November 10th). There were intermittent downsloping winds and a deep boundary layer with some variability in the wind direction due to the presence of surface based warm pockets, so we did have those “calm intervals” with intermittent turbulent gusts in between.

A perfect recipe for weird eddies and crossdrafts.

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#17
TigerWoodsLibido

Posted 27 March 2019 - 08:45 AM

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Strong and focused aerial magnet somehow? No clue.


Springfield, Oregon cold season 19-20 Stats:

Coldest high: 34 (Nov 30)
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#18
weatherfan2012

Posted 27 March 2019 - 12:12 PM

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What was the exact day that this happened? Was it breezy at all? Because I’ve had moderately breezy days produce random turbulent eddies that throw my deck furniture around on a relatively frequent basis.
Here’s an example, just this last fall. A perpendicular crossdraft got under the table @ 0:15 and flipped it along with a chair.

It definitely could be vandals, but if it was, the fact they didn’t take anything is sort of stupid.

I remember that your poor table and chair took a tumble that day :lol:
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#19
Den Socling

Posted 27 March 2019 - 12:32 PM

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This is the first line in my second email to NOAA.

 

"I sent this note to your office on November 12, 2018. The damage that I will be describing and showing with pictures occurred on November 11, 2018."

 

There is always the chance that I was off on the date by a day but I don't think so. I was very anxious to hear an explanation and I wanted to contact them while everything was fresh in my memory.



#20
Phil

Posted 27 March 2019 - 07:23 PM

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Interesting. So you’re in PA, I’m in MD. So our weather should have been pretty similar too.

I have to go with Occam’s razor..that it happened on November 10th, like mine, and it was a turbulent eddy/gust on that breezy day. Either that or vandals.

Who knows. It’s a mystery! 🤓

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#21
Mr Marine Layer

Posted 30 March 2019 - 10:26 AM

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If it were a high wind event, I'd expect to at least see some fallen tree branches.



#22
Den Socling

Posted 30 March 2019 - 11:25 AM

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At another forum, a member suggested that this came out of the creek. 

 

Attached File  canopy damage.jpg   64.44KB   0 downloadsThere are mountains to the north and we are down in the flat valley of the Susquehanna river. The trees see a lot of strong wind.

 

One of the things that I can't understand is why the Kevlar canoe wasn't moved.


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#23
Phil

Posted 31 March 2019 - 11:12 PM

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If it were a high wind event, I'd expect to at least see some fallen tree branches.


Doesn’t work that way with W/NW winds here. The trees are very acclimated to strong gusts from that direction, so often times there are no branches down until winds reach well into high wind warning criteria (at/above 60mph).

Winds from any other direction (especially E/SE) are a different story. Stuff always falls down when strong gusts come from that direction (which is exceedingly rare around here). We haven’t had a high wind warning criteria “southeaster” in at least a decade, so the next one will be a doozy for sure.

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#24
OKwx2k4

Posted 12 April 2019 - 02:21 PM

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My first impression is that it was the work of vandals. It would take quite a bit of wind to cause that type of damage which makes a dust devil or something similar unlikely IMO. Looks like a beautiful area/property.


The dust devil theory has merit. I live in a place that frequently has very small dust devils and swirls of air spin up when the wind is out of the NW and the surface of the ground heats rapidly in contrast to the air temperature. I never paid them much mind until recently I had a sustained wind of around 20 with gusts up to 50 and then things got real. I saw the largest dust/grass devil I had saw since I was a little kid and I guarantee you, it would have knocked a grown man down and threw him so I know they can do some pretty weird damage. With the body of water and the terrain you have there, it looks like a great setup for the same scenario. It was the first one I saw that actually scared me. Lol.

#25
Den Socling

Posted 18 April 2019 - 08:19 PM

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Thanks for that. I've been traveling and haven't looked in for awhile. I know it was wind that did the damage and a "dust devil" is the only possible explanation. I just wish I knew how it formed. Like I said, I have had canopies down there for decades with no problem. This weekend, I'll be setting up a replacement. I sure hope the circumstances don't come together again.



#26
Den Socling

Posted 22 April 2019 - 07:57 PM

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My wife and I moved this table today to make room for new stone and the new canopy. It took both of us on one end to move it a foot or two sideways. Then we went to the other end and moved it a bit. Back and forth that way to move it a couple feet sideways. What could have lifted this heavy SOB and dropped it upside down? It's just crazy!

 

 

 

 

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