Largest Eucalyptus forests in Iberia blown down once more?
From February 27th to 28th 2010 the 228 km/h strong wind and rainstorm Xynthia swept accross the Atlantic from Madeira Island en route to coastal Atlantic Europe, causing widespread damage in Portugal, Northern Spain and Western France.
Fig. 1: Animation of the pathway of Storm Xynthia from the recently catastrophically damaged Madeira Island to the Baltic Sea, depicting heavily affected areas, including some of the most productive cultivated timberlands in Europe. Base satellite image courtesy Meteogalicia.
Of explosive cyclogenesis origin, as Klaus, the unusual and very fast moving wind blast, with intensities roughly equivalent to a Category 4 Hurricane for localized peak winds, caused catastrophic damage to infrastructures in Galicia and the Northern coast in Spain, affecting once more the largest Eucalyptus timberland in Europe before travelling as a Northeasterlie to hit the Charente Maritime, the Vendee and Brittany in France, causing at least 55 fatalities.
Fig. 2: Maximum wind speed readings by weather stations in Galicia during Storm Xynthia (27 to 28 February 2010) reaching 196 km/h. You can compare with similar peaks caused by Storm Klaus (23 to 24th January 2009). Base Map courtesy Meteogalicia.
Maximum wind speeds almost reached the Klaus 2009 new record for measurements in Galicia, surpassing again the effects of cyclone Hortensia in 1984. Peak winds over 150 km/h hit the Atlantic coast, where an important piece of the largest cultivated Eucalyptus rainforest stands; and also hit inland in the already heavily damaged afforested highlands of Eastern Galicia, slowly recovering from previous damage to pine timberlands caused by Storm Klaus last year.
Prospective Catastrophic Damage Areas for Pine & Eucalypt Forests in Galicia (NW Spain)
Once more, cross-checking wind impact cartography with timber resource allocation maps allows to roughly define those areas where winds in excess of 135 km/h may have caused heavy to catastrophic damage to tree plantations, windmill farms and varied industrial, communications and urban infrastructures.
Fig. 3: Prospective catastrophic damage areas caused by Storm Xynthia to Eucalyptus plantations in Galicia (Northwestern Spain). Top wind speed (km/h) remarked for each area. You can compare with damage caused by Storm Klaus (23 to 24th January 2009). Base Maps courtesy EUITF - Universidad de Vigo.
Fig. 4: Prospective catastrophic damage areas caused by Storm Xynthia to Pinus plantations in Galicia (Northwestern Spain). Top wind speed (km/h) remarked for each area. You can compare with damage caused by Storm Klaus (23 to 24th January 2009) Base Maps courtesy EUITF - Universidad de Vigo.
Even if peak wind speed approached that of Klaus, the average wind gusts were milder for most of Galicia, and prospective damaged timber growing areas are more localized. In addition, the wind peaks hiting the worst affected area by Klaus last year were milder this time, reaching "only" 122 km/h, sparing the very productive heavily Eucalyptus afforested Northern coast from catastrophe.
Why does this happen... and how it looks like?
Check out BBC Wheather's Daniel Corbett video report on the formation and expected pathway of Storm Xynthia.
Storm Xynthia Animated Graphics
Also at EUCALYPTOLOGICS...
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© 2007-2010 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado. Please contact us if you want to use all or part of this text and photography elsewhere. We like to share, but we do not like rudeness.