Tornadoes Caused $13M in Timber Damage


Paris, Texas tornado damage | Image by Red Cross

A tornado touching down in a desolate forest is a much better outcome than if that same twister struck a crowded town. However, as reported by the Texas A&M Forest Service, a series of tornadoes last month ravaged timber supplies and has cost the industry roughly $13 million.

The damaged trees were spread throughout 10,000 acres that were in the path of the storms.

Most of the damage to timber occurred on private property, according to a press release from the Texas A&M Forest Service.

“Damage was estimated for sawtimber — trees at least 9 inches in diameter at breast height — and poletimber — trees smaller than sawtimber but at least 5 inches in diameter at breast height. The value was determined using the most recent Texas Timber Price Trends report,” explained the press release.

The Texas A&M Forest Service is analyzing damage from a series of seven tornadoes that touched down on November 4 in Northeastern regions of the state. Trees were split, broken, and in some cases, completely uprooted by the twisters, which ranged in severity from EF1 to EF3. Here’s the breakdown of each major tornado by the Forest Service:

An EF2 tornado, with winds around 125 mph, ran for 15.7 miles through Bowie County. The tornado damaged over 4,000 acres of mixed woods, including hardwoods and pine at an estimated cost of $2.7 million.

In Cass County, a smaller EF1 left a path of over 20 miles, damaging 3,250 acres of timber valued at $4.1 million. In Morris County, an EF2 with estimated peak winds of 125 mph, damaged 1,216 acres valued at $2.1 million.

The largest of the group of tornadoes, an EF3 in Red River County, tore through forests with 150 mph winds and a half-mile long width. The tornado damaged 3,606 acres of timber valued at $3.9 million.

The Forest Service used satellite imagery to compare the density of forests before and after the storms. It also dispatched local teams to assess the condition of some forests in person.

Texas A&M Forest Service Forest Analytics Department Head Dr. Aaron Stottlemyer stated that the damage assessment is crucial for many reasons. To secure aid money from the federal and state levels, an accurate picture has to be drawn of all the destruction, and officials need to be able to create a rehabilitation plan for these areas.

“We’ve developed protocols for rapidly assessing timber damage following major disasters that have become a model for similar efforts across the South,” Stottlemyer said. “Our agency performs this work as a service to the people of Texas.”

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