[meteorite-list] Trouble with the trees
From: Adam Hupe <raremeteorites_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon Jul 12 02:57:14 2004
Had an interesting day in the forest trying to track down the June 3rd
Washington State meteor event. While interviewing eye witnesses deep in the
woods with the University of Washington team we came across some interesting
One account was that the bolide broke into approximately 10 major pieces,
all with glowing trains. The observers reported the pieces disappeared
directly above the camp site they were using and a couple of seconds later
several consecutive booms rattled the forest.
Two eyewitnesses described what sounded like a freight train wrecking across
the lake from the campsite after the bolide turned night into day. They
investigated the other side of the lake at daylight and found freshly broken
branches and rocks across a dirt road that were not there before the
incident. They did not think to collect the rocks or report what they saw
until they heard a newscast claiming that there might be some value to
They showed us where they observed the direction of the meteor after it
broke up and then took us to a spot across the lake to the damaged tree. We
had a hard time finding the tree because the dirt road had been graded
recently as luck would have it. We finally found the spot and were
astonished by what we observed. Several hundred feet up a very steep
ravine, a once healthy cedar tree with an eight foot trunk had been broken
in two, like a toothpick, 40' above the ground. The top 4/5ths had slide
down the hill stopping at the dirt access road. Not only was it broken, it
was pulverized with fresh shards scattered everywhere, some sticking out of
the forest floor like daggers.
No impact pit was found nearby but even if there was one it would be
difficult to find because the foliage is four feet thick in some areas with
dead wood everywhere. The hill was so steep that I had to pull myself up
one foot at a time by grabbing onto rotten branches, undergrowth and plants
at the same time bugs were biting in the worst spots. Itching one of these
bites could cost you your life because you could loose your footing and fall
down the ravine.
We checked for any signs that a rolling meteorite or rock might make by
crashing down a steep hillside but did not find anything conclusive. The
area is so difficult to move around in that searching for clues is near
impossible. We searched other parts of the forest and found a second
freshly crushed tree about a quarter of a mile away. It was just as
difficult to reach as the first but broken in two closer to the ground. A
20' section looked as if somebody had blown the tree apart with dynamite it
was so shattered.
No other crushed trees were found in other parts of the forest prompting us
to ask what caused the damage. Some possibilities are a boulder further up
the hill might have been dislodged but could it bounce 40' up into the air
and break a 200' tall cedar tree in half? Another thought was lightning
although no burn marks were found on either tree. Is it possible for
lightning to snap an eight foot wide tree in half? Would lightning strike
trees near the bottom of a hillside? Could lightning splinter only a 10-20'
section of a 200' tall tree and not damage the rest?
I do not know the answer to these questions so if anybody has any thoughts I
would be glad to hear them.
Wishing everybody well,
The Hupe Collection
Received on Mon 12 Jul 2004 02:03:03 AM PDT