The Great Nor'easter of 2010

The rain began on Thursday, March 11, 2010. It was the first of a series of storms that hit the entire northeast United States one after the other over the next few days.

At first it was just an ordinary rain storm. It wasn't even a steady rain. By early Friday March 12, 2010, it was still only intermittently raining. The rain became a little heavier later that day, and then it became a steady rain. We were actually on our second storm of the series that day. The rain then became pretty heavy at times. By dawn on Saturday, March 13, the amount of steady rain we'd received over the previous couple of days was already pretty impressive.

Then, on Saturday afternoon, after days of everything getting soaked, the big Nor'easter of 2010 hit.

On the TV weather reports they'd been saying that we were going to get hit with a lot of rain and some high winds. But they never suggested the magnitude of destruction that this nor'easter would bring.

When the nor'easter actually hit we got something like two to four inches of rain within a day or so and the storm was accompanied by 75 mile an hour wind gusts and steady winds of 30 to 40 mph.

Well, after all that soaking rain and high wind gusts the current estimate is that there are about 768 trees that were destroyed in Brooklyn alone, with Greenwood Cemetery losing about 100 trees, Marine Park losing about 50 trees and Prospect Park losing about 34 trees. We've heard estimates that about 500 trees were destroyed in Staten Island.

Pickles of the North and I did not go out during the worst of the storm. Like most people we bunkered up and stayed home that weekend. We could feel the apartment building shaking from the winds at times.

On the Monday after the big nor'easter we had to go to the V.A. Hospital. The series of storms were supposed to have been all over by then, we were only supposed to get a few “sprinkles” that day. Monday, March 15, started out with only an intermittent rain, and that rain was light. But during the afternoon it rained pretty hard from time to time, however the hard rain only lasted for 20 or 30 minutes at a time and the winds weren't as strong as they'd been over the weekend.

There were a number of photographs I didn't take on March 15, because we can't afford to replace the digital camera if it gets soaked by the rain. But on March 16, the Sun came out and Pickles of the North and I went walking around Brooklyn, eventually ending up in Marine Park, where we saw the large number of trees that had been knocked over. It was a pretty terrible sight.

I've been living in Brooklyn my whole life and I've seen any number of hurricanes, blizzards and fierce storms of all sorts hit the borough, but I've never seen any of those cause this much destruction over such a wide area. I've seen storms knock over trees before, but never on the scale of this one.

A fallen tree on seventh Avenue in Brooklyn

After I'd had a CAT scan at the V.A. Hospital on Monday morning Pickles of the North and I went out and took what photographs we could.

This downed tree was on 7th Ave. just north of the V.A. Hospital and Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. It was a London Plane Tree and it had a couple of orange traffic cones and yellow “Caution” tape around it. We saw a lot of that yellow tape draped all over the place in Brooklyn for the next couple of days.

This photograph was taken during one of the rainy periods that day, but it wasn't raining that hard just then.

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Toppled gas station sign

This gas station sign probably came down during the height of the storm on Saturday, March 13. It was a big, steel sign that was seriously bolted down to its anchoring plate. But I guess that the top of the sign caught enough of a wind load during one of the gusts that the entire sign was just ripped off its base and dropped in the parking lot next to the gas station.

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blown out sign

Trees weren't the only things that got knocked over by the 75 mph winds over the weekend.

Here the business next to the gas station whose sign was blown down had the plastic part of its sign blown away. I suppose that'll be less costly to fix than getting an entire wrecked sign removed and replaced.

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An ice cream sign blown out

In Bay Ridge this ice cream chain's sign has also been mostly blown away by the nor'easter. When we went by there again a few days later we saw them repairing this sign.

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A fallen tree blocking a street

Tuesday, March 16, dawned clear and sunny. So Pickles of the North and I went out to see what had happened and take some photographs.

It was not uncommon to see downed trees. On major streets fallen trees were cleared pretty soon, and even some minor streets had received the attention of the city's tree removers by the time we started taking photographs. I guess this was a very minor street to still be blocked on March 16.

This had been someone's front yard tree.

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An evergreen tree blocks a sidewalk

This front yard tree is blocking the sidewalk as it leans against a fence. It's an evergreen that will not be green again.

Unseen is the bigger tree that had fallen over and which may have knocked down the tree we see in the photograph, something we'd see a lot more of later in the day.

The larger tree is flat in the neighbor's front yard and is concealed by the angle at which we view this tree. Drivers of motor vehicles weren't the only ones having to make detours after this storm.

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A fallen front yard tree

Here yet another front yard evergreen tree has fallen. This one blocks not only the sidewalk but the street. Someone seemed to have unofficially cut the top of the tree off to allow traffic to flow along the street.

Someone with a car probably cut part of this tree off because although the street was passable the sidewalk is still completely blocked.

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chimney cover on the ground

Fallen trees and signs weren't the only testimony to how fierce that nor'easter was. Here we see a chimney top that's been ripped from its place atop a building and left upside down on the sidewalk.

Every place was littered with smaller branches and twigs that had been ripped from trees during the storm. Most of that damage won't harm the trees at all, but here and there entire large limbs have been blown off, unbalancing the trees and also making them vulnerable to attack from insects, molds, fungi and the like.

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Van with smashed windshield

This overly large motor vehicle was parked near to where another tree had fallen. It looks like part of that tree had crashed down on this van during the storm.

I'm sure the owner's auto insurance will cover the damage; I'm more bothered about the tree.

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damaged sidewalk

This tree had been cut up and was no longer blocking the street by the time we saw it. Smaller branches and the logs it had been cut into now just clogged the gutter, there's sawdust all over the place.

This tree's root system was robust enough that it pried up a good part of the sidewalk when it fell.

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crushed garage in Brooklyn

Near Marine Park we saw this really old and quite huge tree leaning across the sidewalk. We walked down to take its photograph and then we saw the real size of the tree and the fact that it had taken out a fence and the neighbor's garage.

This was a street tree, so I'm guessing that the city will have to pay for the damage.

The fallen tree is also leaning against that neighbor's front yard tree, so the neighbor's tree might be somewhat damaged too.

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View Larger Map

To the left is an embedded Google Satellite view of Marine Park in better days.

The major part of the park is the ellipse containing baseball, soccer and football fields. Surrounding those fields are a pair of tracks for walking or riding. The outer track is completely lined by trees, or it was before this storm hit.

The rest of the photographs on this page were shot in Marine Park.

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Fallen trees near a playground

This photograph was taken from the northern edge of Marine Park. You can see a couple of trees down in this area next to the poetically named “Playground 278” in Marine Park. In the background is Marine Park Junior High. A couple of boys are examining the exposed root ball of one of the fallen trees.

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tree trunk at an angle

Also on the northern edge of Marine Park was this tree stump. The tree had fallen and blocked the sidewalk and part of the street so it was one of the trees that was given priority for removal.

There's only sawdust where the trunk of the tree had been.

It looks like this tree had simply pivoted as it started to fall. I suspect that the soaked ground had played a part in letting it fall over. I think the soaked ground played a part in a number of trees falling.

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small tree that fell

This looks like another case where the ground was too wet to support the tree.

At the base of this tree by the playing field the earth looked like a mud puddle. This tree may have been almost floating in mud by the time that a gust of wind blew it over.

I'm no tree expert, but the exposed base of this small tree doesn't look like it had a great root system, either.

The combination of the soaked ground and the less than impressive root system really made this tree vulnerable to those 75 mph wind gusts.

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a fallen tree that's been moved

This fallen tree is testament to the efforts of the Parks Dept. and those hired by the city to clear the tracks and streets of the park's fallen trees. There's no hole near that root ball. This entire tree has been moved some distance from where it fell. The moving process is probably what chewed up its branches so much.

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a view of the devastation

Here's a panoramic view of some of the destruction on the west side of Marine Park.

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fallen tree

This is one of the trees that was in the outer ring around the tracks at Marine Park. Along the tracks most of the trees fell toward the west, indicating that it was an east wind that knocked them down.

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fallen tree's root ball

This is the same tree as in the photograph above, but shot from a different angle. You can see the size of the root ball that this tree excavated when it fell.

The tree was blocking one of the minor paths in the park, so it was a low priority for being cleared.

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cut up trees in Marine Park

Priority for clearance was given to trees that blocked street traffic, like these fallen trees that have been cut up on the western edge of Marine Park.

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more fallen trees

This is a view looking south down the outer track at Marine Park.

You can see that in this part of the park there were a lot of trees blown down all in a row. It was as bad farther down the outer track.

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fallen trees again

A view of the destruction from another angle. You can see that the shade trees that have been lining this part of the track for more than half a century are decimated. There's going to be a lot less shade over this part of the park this Summer.

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did one tree take down another?

Here's another couple of trees that have been blown down. The thing here is that one tree is sort of on top of the other. It looks like maybe the near tree has fallen on the farther tree and has possibly helped to knock it down. We saw more of this sort of configuration later on.

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Another set of fallen trees

Here we see more trees down, and you can see that beyond the bench some trees appear to have knocked each other down.

That bench certainly wouldn't have been a relaxing place to sit during the storm!

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another possible tree collision

Here we're just south of that bench and this again looks like an instance of one tree having hit another when it fell and maybe taking that tree down as well, or at least helping the wind to take it down.

Of course we weren't there for the storm, I'm glad to say, but Pickles of the North was talking to some of the locals and they described the freight train sound that comes with high winds and the rapid fire sounds that were nearly explosions that they heard during the storm. The rapid fire sounds could have been trees being knocked over and then knocking over nearby trees in their turn.

Note the brat in the tree's branches.

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trees from a different angle

This is the same tree as above, showing how it's blocked the outer track. The same brat still infests its branches.

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yet another bunch of fallen trees

Farther along the outer track we see another major set of fallen trees.

Some of the locals were speculating that a tornado had hit the park. I don't think that's what happened, but while most of the trees fell to the west, indicating a wind from the east, some did fall towards the north, which could happen with cyclonic winds.

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another angle on the fallen trees

This is another angle on the large number of fallen trees in this part of Marine Park.

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more fallen trees

We're a little closer here. You can see that in this part of the track more trees are down than are left standing.

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fallen tree

Another angle showing the same devastated area. You can see the substantial amount of earth brought up by the closest tree when it fell.

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limbs all over the place

More fallen trees and limbs strewn about.

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fallen_tree_marine_park_16 (32K)

This is yet another area where a lot of trees fell. Here it's mostly the outer trees that were toppled by the storm.

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small clobbered tree

It's a little hard to see but in this photograph just to the left of the orange truck is a small tree. That small tree has been devastated by having a couple of other, larger, trees fall on it during the storm.

It looks like a lot of limbs from that smaller tree have been broken off by the larger trees that hit it. It's possible that the smaller tree, while still standing, may have been damaged too much to continue living and will have to be cut down.

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Another angle on the fallen trees

This is a view a little farther down the outer track of the same bunch of trees.

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small clobbered tree again

Here's another shot from a different angle of that smaller tree that's been clobbered by other trees that fell on it. You can see more clearly in this photograph the size of the two trees that hit it.

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more destroyed trees

More of the same area of destruction as above.

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tree pulling up track

When this tree fell it made a real mess of the track and the plot of ground in which it was rooted.

This was probably the most spectacular instance of the ground around a fallen tree being pulled up.

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another tree collision

This is the view looking along the same tree as above. Here we see that it had apparently slammed into another tree. The other tree had chunks of bark missing where it looks like this tree had hit it. This really looks like one tree collapsed onto another tree and helped to bring it down in the storm.

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another angle on the collided trees

From this angle you can see the root ball of the tree across the track that the near tree had crashed into.

Also, you can see more of the damage to the track and the concrete framing that the tree's plot was set in.

Pickles of the North stands near the destruction, showing the size of the chunk of earth raised up by this tree when it fell.

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taped off area

An entire section of the outer track was taped off because of the storm damage. Some of the trees in this section of the park were unstable.

At the left you can see the trucks of the folks who were removing the fallen trees and limbs from the park.

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torn off tree limb

Here we see part of why this area was taped off. This is a pretty substantial limb from a tree, and you can see that it didn't come off cleanly, it's been torn off the tree. It'd take a lot of force to do that. And the tree would be in bad shape after having a limb this size, and part of the trunk of the tree, torn off like that.

The Parks Dept. was afraid that more branches would fall and people might get hurt, that's why this area was taped off. Over the past few months a couple of people have been killed in Greater New York by tree limbs falling on them as the result of storms.

There were a lot of limbs on the ground here and the damage to the trees that were still standing was apparent.

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young trees blown down

Here we see some of the young field trees that have been blown down. The tree removers have come by and cut off the parts of the trees that were sticking out and creating a hazard for part of the inner track.

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end of taped off area

Yet another large tree that excavated a significant amount of earth when it fell.

This is also the southern edge of the taped off area.

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same tree as above

This is the same tree as above from a different angle.

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fallen trees along avenue U

Here are some of the trees that lined Ave. U that have fallen into the park.

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view along a fallen tree trunk

The southern part of the outer track is blocked by this tree. I shot along the length of the tree here. You can see the orange cone atop the root ball just left of center.

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more trees along avenue U that fell

More along Ave. U.

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fallen tree near parking lot

This is a tree alongside the southern exit of Marine Park. It's next to the parking lot there.

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The tree near the parking lot from a different angle

The same tree as above from a different angle.

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fallen tree with big square of concrete

Here's yet another tree along the southern exit of the park, and this one has brought up a piece of an old concrete structure that was hidden from view until now.

That's a substantial piece of concrete there, and the tree's roots still have a death grip on it. Even the weight of that concrete on its base couldn't keep this tree from being blown over, testament to the force of the winds from this storm.

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tree that fell on handball court

I'm sure that no one was playing handball during the storm. This tree would have ended the game if they had been, however.

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fallen tree in another part of the park

The northeast part of Marine Park was not as badly damaged as other parts, but it wasn't completely spared from the loss of trees.

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young women sitting on fallen tree

On another fallen tree some young women adapt to the changes in the park.

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teenagers among fallen trees

These teenagers probably congregate here every day after school. They'd have grown used to having those trees shading them. Now they're socializing amid the wreckage.

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crane unloading tree parts

Marine Park's east parking lot was where the large pieces of tree were taken and dumped.

Here we see one of the tree remover trucks using a small crane to add these tree trunks and limbs to the piles.

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parking lot full of cut up trees

This is a view of that parking lot where all of the tree parts were being off-loaded. I think that they'd originally used that green dumpster for the tree parts, but it would have quickly filled up, and so after that everything was dumped into piles.

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mounds of mulch made from the fallen trees These mulch piles are all that's left of a lot of trees. And they had a lot more to go.

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R. Paul Martin taking these photographs

Pickles of the North took this shot of me trying to photograph the destruction while avoiding getting a brat in the shot.

Regarding the mulch piles in the above photograph, we could smell the different types of trees in these piles when we got close to them. This mulch from the destroyed trees of Marine Park will probably be showing up in parks all over Greater New York City for the next year or more.

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