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DayCreek Journal

July 25, 2004

Whew! That was Close.


The summer is starting to sound like a broken record, although as I write this the weather has turned much more tranquil and "resort-like" at least for a few days. But, you couldn't have said that about the weather earlier in the week. The above photograph was taken at about 1:30 in the afternoon last Monday when a south-westerly tracking storm (very strange direction) just (and I mean JUST) missed our house. This storm brought tennis-ball sized hail to the La Crosse area and very heavy winds. A few roofs were blown off of buildings and there was a lot of damage done due to the hail. Being located on the southwest flank of the storm, what was most impressive was the wind shear. Although I saw no twisting motion in the clouds, the clouds were blowing in opposite directions at different elevations. There were no tornadoes were reported in the area, it did prompt the National Weather Service to issue a tornado watch for this storm.

I am certainly glad that we missed out on that hail. Solar panels are able to withstand hail to some degree, but I don't think they would have faired very well with something as large as a tennis ball. Homes, businesses and car dealerships had quite a bit of damage as well as a number of greenhouses. Some greenhouse businesses reported up to two-thirds of the glass panels were broken in their greenhouses.

And if the storms weren't enough on Monday, the heat and humidity were down-right stifling on Wednesday. Temperatures approached the 90°(F) mark with a dew point temperature of 80°(F). A town about 100 miles west of us reported an afternoon temperature of 91°(F) with a dew point of 84°(F). This put the heat index well over 110°. Dew points above 80°(F) use to be unheard of here in the upper midwest, but over the past 20 years or so, it has become more prevalent. An afternoon scan of Dew points across the country could not top the 84°(F) located right here in Minnesota. As a matter of fact, the highest Dew points across the country were NOT located in Florida or the gulf states but rather in Iowa and Minnesota. Why is that?

One theory is that corn sweats. Yes, that's right. A study by Northern Illinois University climatologist David Changnon indicates that corn plants are unique in the fact that they transpire water during the day and at night. This combined with ever increasing densities of corn plants may be responsible for the extreme humidity that occurs during the summer months here in the midwest. (Want to read the article? Click Here.)

I am making a point of this because it is VERY difficult to work in conditions when the dew point reaches the upper 70's or higher. Yes, I'm sure that getting older has something to do with it too, but we won't go there. I like the corn theory better! I gotta tell ya that it's no fun trying to mix mortar or cut wood when it's that humid. It got so bad all I could do was laugh at myself after cutting a Bobcat-load of wood. I looked like I had been bread-crumbed with sawdust.

This kind of humidity has also been responsible for mold that has started to grow some of the log-ends of the freshly built walls. An interesting observation to this is that I have only seen mold on the log-ends that are flush with the mortar. I usually don't like to keep the log-ends flush with the mortar for esthetic reasons, but since the walls that I am working on are located in what will be the kitchen, I wanted to keep the wall as flush as possible to help with the installation of kitchen cabinets. Wherever the logs are flush with the mortar there is mold growing on the edges of the wood, while logs that have some relief from the mortar do not. I may have to spray a chlorine mixture onto the ends of some of the logs if they don't dry out soon.

Speaking of walls, wall number 52 was completed on Friday with 12 more to go. I've actually been making pretty good progress, but I have had to really push myself to get one wall done per week. I have a feeling that sooner or later, I won't be able to keep up the current pace. Weekends have been extremely busy and a few more rainy days will probably set me back a week. I don't want to jinx anything by stating WHEN I might get wall number 64 done. If it's this year or next, I'm not about to make any predictions.

That's about it for now.


Although wrens appear to be a rather "cute" bird, they are quite mean and are very opportunistic. They' won't think twice of taking over a blue bird house or destroying other competing nests in their territory.