Mariton: This Day in Weather History

October 29, 2020

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager

There has been some exciting weather on October 29. Today we are getting a rain leftover from Hurricane Zeta, but that is nothing compared to past October 29th s.

Photo by Tim Burris

These trees were bent over by the snow load on October 29, 2011

On October 29, 2011 we had a massive snow storm.  Over twelve inches of wet snow fell that night at Mariton.  In fact, Williams Township was the epicenter of the heaviest snow from that storm.  That year we had a late fall, and most trees still had their leaves.  That meant that thousands of limbs and hundreds of trees broke with the snow’s weight.  Mariton’s trails were blocked mostly by limbs, but the electricity was out for 8 days in our area.

You have to remember that 2011 was a wacky year (not that 2020 isn’t wacky).  It was extremely wet that year.  I recorded over 80 inches of precipitation for 2011.  Besides a snowy winter and rain throughout the year, we had the remnants of Hurricanes Irene and Lee drop barrels of rain in August and September.  So, soils were saturated unlike any year I can remember when that late October snow storm occurred.  Oh, and 2011 was the year of the big Eastern Earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument and caused damage up and down the East Coast.  A wacky year indeed.

Photo by Tim Burris

A large opening in the forest caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy came ashore one year later on October 29, 2012.  By the time it reached Mariton, we still had hurricane force winds.  The storm uprooted and broke off trees at Mariton.  We later removed 500 trees in a salvage cut (and that doesn’t include all the trees toppled in that storm).  That year the leaves were off the trees when the storm hit, or the damage would have been much, much worse.  I was able to reopen about two thirds of the trails in a few days, thanks to help from Preserve Mangers from other Natural Lands preserves.  Many trails remained closed for months.  We only lost power for seven days in that storm.

Photo by Tim Burris

The River Lookout Trail after October 29, 2012

One of the benefits of spending a few decades managing a piece of property is you remember the different storms.  I don’t always remember the year that a particular tropical storm or straight-line wind blew through, but I remember the effects on Mariton’s forest.  I am also able to watch how the forest responded afterwards.