Thursday, February 12, 2009

Terrible Barn Wind

Mid December, 2008, was a terrible day. The snow wasn’t falling for a change but the wind was blowing and gusting up to 100 kilometers per hour. Trees and branches broke, roofs blew off older buildings and many century-old barns were damaged or destroyed.
Just in the Grey county area of Ontario where I live, I have come across many barns that were affected and had many calls after that windy day. A brand new metal roof blew away from a barn I had worked on in Euphrasia Township, near the Beaver Valley. The barn next door to the west side had completely collapsed. In my neighbourhood, two barns were damaged between Scone and Elmwood. On one the straw barn fell down completely, tearing away from the main barn and another, just down the road, collapsed. The problem was that there was a large amount of snow on these barn roofs, combined with the fact that it had gotten warmer and so the snow became heavy. It was actually top heavy and for some of those barns with rotten posts, either at the top or bottom, or girts that were pulling out of their connections, the snow load and wind became too much.
On that day I happened to be at my neighbour’s farm, storing one of my tractors in his barn for the winter. The wind was creating a lot of noise inside the 128 year old structure, which I had repaired a few years ago. I was looking up at the inside of the roof when I noticed that a large section, including the rafters and boards, about 30 feet long, was being lifted up by the wind. Every time the wind gusted, the roof lifted. The owner was there, as well as two of my sons, and we quickly tied heavy ropes to the inside of the rafters and then down to a solid post. Just in time, otherwise the roof would have gone. Funny now, but when the owner was hanging on to the rope, while we were nailing supports for it, he was being lifted up with the wind gusts.
There are many more barns I have seen damaged or collapsed since then, and I have realized it was a memorable storm that leveled many a historic barn. The one in the photo is near Berkley, Ontario. If anyone else can tell me about their area and how many barns were damaged, it would be greatly appreciated.

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