Broken and Twisted Pine Tree

By | February 13, 2017

I’m not sure if this broken, twisted pine tree was because of a tornado or from straight-line winds. We had a tornado come through this area of the Ouachita National Forest back in 2013. This tornado caused a lot of damage to several miles of National Forest. It came within a 1 / 2 mile of my place. This pine tree was several hundred yards from where the main tornado damage occurred.

I read that just because a tree is twisted this does not mean it was caused by a tornado. Weather.gov states that:

This is one of the most common mistakes – the fact that trees were “twisted” off doesn’t necessarily mean a tornado has gone through. If you could draw a line straight down a tree, you’d see that the tree isn’t exactly alike from one side to the other. Differences in limbs and leaves may cause the tree to have more wind resistance on one side than the other. The tree begins to “twist” (much like a stop sign “twists” in strong winds). If wind speeds are high enough the tree will begin to tear apart in a twisting motion -even though the winds are relatively straight!

A Broken and Twisted Pine Tree

A Broken and Twisted Pine in the Ouachita National Forest

I also read that this area is a High Risk area for Tornadoes. According to records, the largest tornado in this area was an F4 in 1952 that caused 9 injuries and 7 deaths. *Tornado risk is calculated from the destruction path that has occurred within 30 miles of the location.

Straight-Line Winds vs. Tornado

The key difference is in two words – IN and OUT!

IN – all wind flows INTO a tornado. Debris is often laying at angles due to the curving of the inflow winds.

OUT – all wind flows OUT from a downburst. Debris is often laying in straight lines (hence the term “straight line winds”) parallel to the outward wind flow

Author: Steve Creek

An Arkansas-based wildlife photographer specializing in the wildlife found in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Steve’s images are created from his overwhelming passion for being outdoors with cameras in tow.

One thought on “Broken and Twisted Pine Tree

  1. Greg Topp

    Steve,
    This is tornado damage. We see this most every summer up here in NW Wisconsin. “Straight line winds” is largely a term coined by insurance companies to get out of paying for tornado damage.

Comments are closed.