Impaled Palm

Impaled Palm (Hurricane Andrew)

A 1X4 board penetrated the upper part of a royal palm, leading to one of my most prized and popular photos.  Hurricane Andrew impaled the plank due E-W through the axis of the trunk, which was not significantly twisted. The palm almost certainly bent diagonally at a steep angle in eyewall winds analyzed at around 120 knots in the area–meaning that the board was either propelled downward and westward, or upward and eastward, into a palm trunk weakened and perhaps slightly split in the vertical by the intense bending. Since it is highly unlikely that the board flew from below, against the bending wind, it probably struck from above (the west). The problem is: Its compass direction is 90° off the known north and south winds in the eyewall at this location, since the center of the eye passed directly overhead. No tall buildings were nearby to create a flow diversion. So was this the result of an intense shear eddy, such as those Fujita documented elsewhere in the inner eyewall, or a yet-unknown mystery gust?  As of my last visit to the site, 23 years later in late 2015, the same palm still was there, but with a board-shaped rectangular hole through the trunk.

2 N Homestead FL (28 Aug 92) Looking NE

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