VERSAILLES — Friday night's storm did a number on trees on several of the Bluegrass region's most scenic roads. On Monday, the whine of chain saws could be heard as crews cleaned up the damage.
The major damage occurred north and east of Versailles on Big Sink Pike, Pisgah Pike and U.S. 62 (Midway Road) between Versailles and Midway, said the Woodford County Sheriff's Office.
Also among the Friday storm's casualties was a familiar white oak tree near Highland Christian Church in Frankfort, Lexington arborist Dave Leonard said. The tree on the hill crest was something of a landmark in the capital city.
"It was totally hollow and had a 100-foot branch spread," Leonard said. "It was only 70 feet tall but now that it's fallen on its side, it's still 50 feet tall. It's got limbs sticking up that high that were part of the crown before. It was an amazing tree. It was a classic, picturesque, big mushroom-looking tree. This lady emailed me that her daughter got married under it three years ago."
A 66 mph wind gust was reported at Blue Grass Airport Friday night, said meteorologist Rick Lasher at the National Weather Service in Louisville.
Given that kind of wind gust, it's not surprising that old trees along the Woodford County roads were damaged, Leonard said.
"Trees are engineered to hold up to 40 mph winds really good," Leonard said. "But at 66 miles an hour, that's high. Anything over 50 miles an hour, you begin to see trees fail that are not defective, or not so obviously defective."
This summer's high heat and drought is another factor, Leonard said.
"Trees still transpire, they're still putting off moisture, and if they can't take it in, they dry themselves out," Leonard said. "So a dry limb on a tree may still have foliage but it becomes more brittle. A green limb is flexible, but dry wood is brittle. So they are more likely to fail under a weight load."
At one point Friday night, a car traveling on Midway Road was trapped between two downed trees, Versailles police said. No injuries were reported.
Geri and Bob Raimondi mourned the loss of the Bradford pear trees in their front yard. They live about five miles south of Versailles, at the corner of McCowan's Ferry Road and Delaney's Ferry Road.
"I was cutting the grass on the tractor, and I'm halfway done, and I'm looking up at the clouds and it's getting darker and darker and darker," said Bob Raimondi, 77. "All of a sudden I see lightning coming down. I stopped cutting the grass, and ran inside, and it came down."
Hail, rain, thunder and wind crashed on their brick house and split apart the pear trees in their yard.
"It looks like a battle zone," Geri Raimondi said Monday, surveying the damage.
Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.