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Reston Storm Not a Tornado, NWS Says

Officials survey damage and conclude storm was bad, but not officially a tornado.

The National Weather Service conducted a storm survey in Fairfax County on Saturday evening and found no evidence of a tornado.

The NWS says it surveyed damage at two spots in Reston and another spot in Lorton and concluded the damage was not caused by a tornado.

There was, however, significant damage from the storm that rolled through Reston about 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, with winds clocked at about 60 miles per hour.

The area around Fairway/North Shore/South Shore near Lake Anne seems to have been hit the hardest, with numerous trees down causing property damage. A large tree also fell on Scandia Circle and damaged two townhouses.

One South Shore Road, Across the street, a neighbor's carport was crushed.

VDOT crews were at work Saturday evening to clean up debris.

LD September 09, 2012 at 02:16 PM
To "the analyst"- why do you have to turn trees falling down into a political issue? Just wondering
BBurns September 09, 2012 at 02:18 PM
<<John Farrell: "If you and I both chose to take that risk, why impose that choice on everyone else?">> Because it's not. Imposed, that is. People can choose to live where they want, and are given guidelines before closing on a house or townhouse. Reston "a city of townhouses in a forest?" Not how I think of it, but interesting. "Reston would still have hundreds of millions of trees." New math?
Andrew Freeman September 09, 2012 at 04:28 PM
When the covenants were created nearly 50 years ago, the trees at the time were not the trees of today. Please visit the Reston Museum on Lake Anne Plaza to look at the pictures if you doubt me. Many of these trees are reaching the limits of their lifetimes, something we know today which we did not know 50 years ago when these covenants were created. Examining the covenants is something reasonable people ought to do. Asking the question and reviewing the rules every-so-often to see if they are working as intended is just the kind of value I think most Restonians share. I love the trees that surround my cluster (Waterview.) But ask me again if one of these large trees takes out my house, my car, my cat, or one of my children. Especially if it is a tree that is caught in the RA bureucratic process. Tornados/micro-bursts are n environmental reality. However I can't ever remember experiencing them in Reston as a seasonal event. If someone sees the increasing occurrance as an aspect of global warming, that's a legitimate discussion point; especially in a story about how these storms are knocking down trees and causing real damage.
John Farrell September 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The need for approval of the removal of a tree is disclosed in the HOA docs. The inflexibility of the RA staff's interpretation of those guidelines is not. Townhouses are the overwhelming majority of dwelling units in Reston. Yes, there are hundreds of millions of trees within RA's boundaries. No new math needed. Look at any tree survey.
John Farrell September 09, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Mr. Freeman Your point about the expansion of Reston's tree canopy over the last 50 years precisely right. The County paid for aerial photography of the entire County ever 2 years between 1948(?) and 2002. Now, half the County is flown every four years. Compare the shots from 1964 and now proves your point. Your point about average life span of trees is also spot on. More trees will be coming down with every storm, now.
Judith Andersen September 09, 2012 at 06:06 PM
I assure you, if you lived on South Shore, as I do, you would not doubt that it was a tornado. It made the most extraordinary noise, not at all like a huge gale. Not like the derecho, which also decimated our neighborhood. More like a freight train rushing right by you.
The Analyst September 09, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Because it is a political issue. There's more evidence than ever that global warming is occurring. Huge chunks of the Arctic shelf are breaking off and melting. In the last 7 years, weather that was considered an obscure phenomena is now common place. The abnormal is now the new normal. We've seen in the last 7 years about 4 storms with were "pseudo tornados" knocking down trees just like they did yesterday. A year ago we had 6 inches of rain in a few minutes flooding the area. In In some regions the U.S. is thaving devastating droughts one year followed by flooding the next. And yet a party paid off by special interests wants the trend to continue. How many people need to die for a fast buck?
Dave Waldrup September 09, 2012 at 07:17 PM
To Judith and all my neighbors on South Shore, I am sorry for all your damage and loses but glad no one was hurt. My wife and I love walking through the beautiful neighborhood you maintain along your street and we stand ready to help.
Robert Mowbray September 09, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Re: Hundreds of millions of trees. There are probably no more than 450 trees per acre in the forested areas of Reston. I don't know how many acres of forested land there are in Reston, but it would take over 2000 acres to get us close to 1 million trees and over 2 million acres to get close to one hundred million. If the people who drafted the covenants and the prople who have bought homes in Reston don't know that trees grow, they need to go back to elementary school where, perhaps, they will learn how important trees are to us in preventing erosion, slowing the velocity and decreasing the volume of storm water runoff, providing habitat for plants and wildlife, etc. Robert Mowbray Forest Ecologist
Robert Mowbray September 09, 2012 at 09:55 PM
There is also a large chestnut oak down and leaning on a parked truck on Olde Crafts Drive near the intersection with South Lakes Drive closest to Colts Necks. It completely blocks the road and there was no sign of attempts to remove it early this afternoon. At the other end of Olde Crafts there are 3 damaged and dangerous trees - 2 black locusts and one red maple. All three were partially broken about half way up. The broken tops of two of them are hanging (harmlessly?) and the top of the third is hanging horizontally over Olde Crafts Drive. Bob Mowbray
Ray Wedell September 10, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Storm or no storm.... This one wreaked havoc.
Ray Wedell September 10, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Whoops..I mean, tornado or no tornado......
John Farrell September 10, 2012 at 01:28 AM
So 17.4 square miles in RA x 640 (acres in a square mile) = 11136 acres x 450 trees per acre (low estimate but let's use it) = 5,011,200 trees in Reston. Even if you reduce that number for the percentage of Reston that's impervious, you're still more than 3.5 million trees. So letting a homeowner cut down a tree or two that threaten their home will not turn Reston into a desert.
Michael September 10, 2012 at 01:30 AM
John, there are 640 acres in a square mile. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre. Your multiplication is accurate but you start with the wrong factors.
Michael September 10, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Never mind, I see John corrected his "new math." Nowhere close to "hundreds of millions."
John Farrell September 10, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Right, caught my mistake and corrected it before you posted, Michael. If every single-family homeowner cut down 2 trees that threaten their life or their home, there would still be millions of trees in Reston according to Mowbry's low estimate. We don't have to risk death by oak tree to keep Reston's forest.
Karen Goff September 10, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Susan Smith - your comments have been deleted for violating our terms of service. Please don't use the comments section to repeatedly promote a business. Thanks.
Orlina Tucker September 10, 2012 at 04:51 PM
On the issue of removing trees....for those of us in clusters (I live on Scandia Circle) not only must we worry about trees on our property, we must also worry about damage/injury potential of the cluster-owned trees that surround our houses. The trees that crushed the end unit on Scandia Cir are on Bentana West CLUSTER property, and the CLUSTER will not pay anything towards removing the fallen trees from the homeowners house. The basic rule on cluster trees is this: as long as the tree is standing, it's the cluster's responsibility to maintain; once it falls and hits a house, it's the homeowners responsibility to remove. Nice deal for the cluster associations, they don't have to do anything but let the trees rot and fall. I accept both the good and bad of living in a woodland wonderland; I've lived through having a tree fall on my house. However, we woodland residents don't have full control over how well our cluster maintains its trees, and it's on us when these same trees damage our houses. In Bentana West, there's always a heated battle whenever a resident raises the issue of cluster tree care (or removal); I'm sure after this latest , we're in for another heated round of discussion. It’s very easy to say “we MUST KEEP every tree in Reston” when those trees aren’t falling on your house. Perhaps it’s time for both the RA and clusters to adopt a realistic plan to tree conservancy, rather than the current "ignore it and wait till it falls" approach.
LD September 10, 2012 at 05:07 PM
I guess you lost me when you started name calling. So I missed your points in your first post. The second post was easier to read.
The Analyst September 10, 2012 at 07:06 PM
" The basic rule on cluster trees is this: as long as the tree is standing, it's the cluster's responsibility to maintain; once it falls and hits a house, it's the homeowners responsibility to remove. Nice deal for the cluster associations, they don't have to do anything but let the trees rot and fall." I would strongly suggest you find out what you're talking about before posting on a web site. Clusters can't and don't make ***laws***. State law sets liability which in turn is used as the basis for a cluster. A tree falling over due to a wind storm is considered "an act of God" meaning no one saw it coming and no one could prevent it (unless, of course, you know someone that's turning on and off the storm machine). Also, the cluster ***is*** the residents. It's supposed to be democratically elected group that's supposed to represent neighbors. They're supposed to respond to and handle requests, and your supposed to interact with them. If your cluster is filled with a bunch of arrogant, know-it-all, pseudo elites, kick 'em out of office and put people in charge that ere responsive. A cluster association is also not supposed to be a "secret society" with board members imposing a secretive agenda on residents while deliberately limiting their knowledge. Unfortunately, for every person with a good brain, there's always some self centered dimwit with a pea brain and a power or control complex. It's your job to know the difference and keep the latter out of office.
Orlina Tucker September 10, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Analyst - you've completely missed my point, which is that there should be a more comprehensive approach to conserving Reston's trees. I don't disagree that global warming is a serious issue, but "fix global warming" isn't really a practical solution to address the issue of vulnerable trees. I am active in my cluster elections, however, I'm completely disinclined to suggest that any neighbor who is less concerned about tree-related damage (i.e. doesn't agree with me) are "pea brained".
Robert Mowbray September 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Climate change is not, or at least should not be, "a political issue." It is a scientific fact or, at least, a theory. It has become politicized because people do not want to make the economic sacrifices necessary to do something about it. Bob Mowbray
Robert Mowbray September 10, 2012 at 09:27 PM
A few years ago, after 2 trees (in different storms) fell on 3 townhouses in my cluster, our cluster board contracted a local tree care firm to evaluate the trees surrounding our cluster and then contracted to have several diseased trees (oaks) removed. Earlier this year the board contracted for the removal of several more trees (mostly oaks but including a dogwood and a sweet bay magnolia which had been purchased and planted by an earlier board). As far as I know there was no good reason to remove these trees. Robert Mowbray
The Analyst September 11, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I didn't say you, or anyone else was pea brained. I was making general remarks with regards to some of the problems people run into with board members. Some people have genuine psychiatric conditions, albeit typically minor, that cause them to have a fetish for imaginary power or perceived grandeur from a minor position such as being a board member. Trust me, it happens. I have absolutely no knowledge about your board. Your first post, I think, implied that a) your board was letting these trees rot, and b) when they fall over the cluster says "tough cookies, you're insurance company can pay for it." Please read my first post again - the trees that were blown over had solid wood and were not rotting. They did not fall at a rotting point in the base, they snapped in the middle of their trunks. If you know someone that can guarantee the integrity of a tree to hold up under what were hurricane force winds, I and everyone else, would like to know their name. Regarding insurance, your cluster, I believe, is legally required to have liability insurance. Few banks will authorize a loan on a house without insurance. Who pays the bill in events like this is determined by law, not cluster associations - that's just the way they're written. These are not, as you say, "cluster rules," these are state regulations. I've been on boards in other areas before. If you want to criticize them, at least criticize them for valid reasons, not an opinion formed from misinformation.
Dick Sziede September 11, 2012 at 01:59 PM
What is the problem? You have a dangerous tree? Fill out a few forms. RA will approve. Hire a bonded pro to take the tree down. Emphasis on bonded pro. If the tree is dangerous, a hack could easily drop it on your house. This is not difficult. It is expensive. The pro that took down my leaning pine charged $1200.
Orlina Tucker September 11, 2012 at 02:05 PM
"b) when they fall over the cluster says "tough cookies, you're insurance company can pay for it." That is exactly what our cluster said to multiple homeowners who suffered tree damage.
Orlina Tucker September 11, 2012 at 02:08 PM
The problem is not whether I have a dangerous tree, which I have the power (and resources) to address; it's the dangerous tree(s) on cluster property that I have no control over that I have issues with.
Karen Goff September 11, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Tune in tomorrow, where we will have a tree story about who is responsible for what in these situations - and how to manage with big, old trees around here.
The Analyst September 11, 2012 at 05:31 PM
CAN YOU READ, ORLINA? It is not the responsibility of the cluster's insurance company to pay for it. That's the law. That's just the way the laws were written. Part of your dues are going to pay for cluster liability insurance. In other words, cluster insurance is **your** insurance. If the cluster board members had to use cluster insurance, why would they care anyway? An insurance company would pay for it, not them personally. Your comments make absolutely no sense whatsoever I would also question your comment about "the dangerous tree(s) on cluster property that I have no control over that I have issues with." How do you know these trees are dangerous? I assume you're either a tree expert or, by law, have had them inspected by a certified arborist, right? I assume you've contacted your cluster board in writing regarding this, right? I assume you've presented your evidence that the trees are dangerous to them, right? Assuming that you've taken all these steps, you should not be wasting time posting this information on the web, you should be contacting the State's Attorney General's office to start prosecuting your HOA board members for gross negligence (at the very least).
Restonia September 11, 2012 at 07:54 PM
So trees never fell down before global warming (which may or not be real - the science is dubious at best)? Follow up question - if a tree falls down in Reston and some agenda-driven amateur climatologist shrieks hysterically about it do my HOA fees go up? In all seriousness, I am glad to hear that no one was hurt.

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