Maritime Forest – Amelia Island and Irma

Amelia Island is a barrier island located in extreme northeast Florida along the Atlantic Ocean. It’s about 13 miles long and about 2 miles across at the widest point. The forest extends north-south along almost the entire length of the island – broken in only a few areas where roads pass through running from east to west. We locally call this strip of trees the greenway.

For about 72 hours prior to the arrival of Irma (well west of us and a tropical storm by then), a strong nor’easter had set up over the region producing almost continuous rainfall and sustained onshore winds of at least 20-30 mph with some gusts into the 45 mph range. Irma added heavy squalls into the equation as a major feeder band moved northward up the Florida east coast. For nearly 36 hours, our maritime forest and coast were battered by onshore winds of sustained 45 to 55 mph with frequent gusts to the low 80 mph range.

The effects of this persistent onshore wind took a heavy toll on the forest islandwide – numerous trees down, branches twisted off and thousands of tons (yes tons) of leaves lost.

In our own backyard, which is part of the forest, we lost numerous branches and a crazy amount of leaves. No trees down but in our small neighborhood many large oaks were felled by the strong winds (and soaked ground). It’s been almost 3 weeks now since Irma and some of the trees in our yard are showing the effects of the whipping winds.

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It looks like a typical autumn day (above) but the bald cypress trees here don’t change color until late November and generally don’t lose their needles until mid December. The color change reflects dead and dying needles on the branches.

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A closer look (above) shows many bare spots where the needles were simply stripped away from the branches.

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A large oak blown down during Irma (above).

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A rather large oak branch ripped away from the tree (above) in the persistent winds of Irma.

Our house is just about 800 meters away from the ocean… we don’t usually get heavy salt spray here but we did during the nor’easter and Irma. I’m sure some of the color change in the cypress trees has something to do with the spray and wind.

The trees will recover. They took this same type of beating last October during the passage offshore of Hurricane Matthew.

Thanks for your visit!

Chris

 

c1911 Post Office – Amelia Island

A favorite of mine to photograph – the interior of our c1911 post office here on Amelia Island. For the most part it’s survived its 115 year plus history pretty much intact. I’m told that this is exactly the same way this door has looked since 1911. Amazing.

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Beautiful quartersawn oak – excellent casework and attention to detail. Can you imagine replicating this today?

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris

The Pippi Longstocking House – Amelia Island

Located in what is known as Old Town (Fernandina Beach) overlooking the Amelia River on the northwest side of Amelia Island. Originally built around 1870 for a harbor pilot Captain Bell and the second owner was also a river captain in 1901. Located on a high bluff at 212 Estrada Street, it overlooks the former Spanish fort San Carlos (c1811).

It’s a lovely house that’s been restored and maintained through the decades. It stood in as Pippi Longstocking’s house in the late 1980s movie “The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking”… “The house was altered and remodeled through the years. When movie producers came calling in 1987, it was its original weathered white with hunter green shutters. The house stood in for Villa Villekulla, the fictional home of Pippi, a character in a series of books written by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren. The young girl lives alone in a small Swedish village sharing the house with her monkey and horse. She befriends the two children living next door, Tommy and Annika Settergren, and they have many adventures together.”

Today it is a private residence and is not open for tours. It’s a very easy to photograph house because of the large open area in front of the house (actually Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park).

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The “Pippi Longstocking House” on Amelia Island. Built c1870

If you find yourself near Amelia Island it is well worth the visit (don’t miss the 40 block Historic District of Fernandina Beach while you’re at it).

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Pippi says “hi”!

Thanks for stopping by!

Chris

Tropical Storm Force Winds – Irma

Here’s a small sample of what it was like here in extreme Northeast Florida on the morning of  September 11, 2017 as TS Irma (downgraded from hurricane at that time) made its way northward across the north central part of the state well west of Amelia Island. 

The winds were east-southeasterly at about 40 mph sustained with gusts into the 60-70 mph range when this video was taken at 8 AM. The oak in the video is about 60 feet tall and nearly 80 feet across. It held up nicely in the relentless winds. Check out the 20 foot tall flagpole – it did well too.

The flooding in the street was from the heavy rainfall and blocked storm drains and not from storm surge. Once the drains were cleared the water was gone.

A big shout out goes to the fearless linemen from Illinois that worked to restore our power… which was out for only 61 hours! Considering how much damage there was that was a remarkably short period of time. At one point in the repair work near our neighborhood, dozens of linemen were using five power company bucket trucks to string new wires and set new poles. Thank you!!!

Chris

Irma Damage

Almost everywhere in Florida was affected by Hurricane Irma – some more directly than others and of course some suffered a complete loss of their homes, businesses, cars and lives. The difficult journey of recovering from the damage and destruction will be a long one and some will just give up and go.

Our corner of Northeast Florida (our little island) for the most part did pretty well considering where we are located. Closer to home, our neighborhood had damage but the homes came through. We lost our power for 61 hours – a small time really compared to what others will see.

These pictures are from around 8 AM or so on Monday morning (9-11-2017) – the winds were still gusting into the high 60 mph range with some gusts to near 90 mph in the predawn hours.

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Neighbors house avoids getting damaged from a rather large oak branch.

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Directly behind our house on another street. This was about a 60 foot oak that blew down and missed the house completely.

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Just outside the neighborhood at the beach. Just after the highest water was receding.

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At the beach. Only a few poles came down.

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Some damage along the beach road (above and below).

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By the afternoon on Monday, the strongest onshore winds were past but the ocean was still very rough.

The best to all that are suffering through their recoveries from Harvey and Irma.

Chris and Carol