Typhoon in Philippines Impacts Colorado Landscapes

When freezing temperatures caused a typhoon in the Philippines, no one expected this meteorological event would impact Colorado landscapes – 7,695 miles away.

But on November 10, 2014, the temperature fell 77 degrees – going from a high of 64 to a low of -13. This dramatic drop in temperature was the 3rd largest ever recorded in the Denver area since 1872.

In Casper, Wyoming, during the same time period, the temperatures dove from 60 degrees to -27 – representing an 87-degree drop. Compounding the November freeze, the western part of the United States had one of the warmest falls, which added to the erratic weather changes.

The cold weather was a product of what began as Typhoon Nuri in the Philippines on October 28, 2014. After being downgraded to a tropical storm on November 6, the storm took a northeastward track east of Japan. The typhoon split and intensified which caused one of the most intense tropical cyclones of the North Pacific Ocean ever recorded.

The cyclone remnants reached the Bering Sea, causing the jet stream to move northward. The far north track of the jet stream allowed a chunk of the polar vortex to fall to the United States – propagating the November freeze of 2014.

As day length shortens and temperatures cool, landscapes prepare for winter – a process called resorbing. However, as of November 10th, this winter preparation process had not yet been complete, so trees and shrubs simply froze.

We know what happens when we leave a garden hose out during winter weather – water expands causing hoses and pipes to burst. The same thing happened with the foliage on trees and shrubs in Colorado – they simply burst.

Some of the Typhoon Damage Seen During the Spring of 2015:

  • Arborvitae simply desiccated and turned brown
  • Burning bush, with leaves still clinging to their stems, remain lifeless
  • Many buckthorn were killed
  • Already weakened Austrian and Ponderosa pines, which hadn’t recovered from 2012 and earlier droughts, remain brown showing little signs of new growth
  • On stronger pines, the older needles are still brown however new growth is forming
  • Many ash, maple, and elm have severe dieback
  • Siberian elms and some of the newer hybrid varieties such as Prospector are completely dead

Few could have predicted that a typhoon 7,695 miles away, on another continent, would bring record-setting low temperatures along the Front Range of Colorado. But it shows just how interconnected our global environment truly is, and Colorado will be feeling the most recent affects of this meteorological event for many years to come.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the freeze impacted your landscape, take advantage of a free inspection with a certified arborist – your local Landscape Care Consultant.