Hurricanes in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, February and July, 2002.

Events, facts and evidences: On February 27, 2002, at about half past four and shortly before sundown, a strong tornado scudded Belovezhskaya Pushcha. Within a few minutes 60,000 cubic meters of wood were destroyed as numerous trees broke or fell down, covering an area of 180 hectares. A line of forest four kilometers long and 200 to 400 meters wide was thrown down to earth within the forestry area of Korolevo-Mostovskoe, situated in the Regulated Nature Zone (the second category of protection). A giant-Oak, aged 550 years, a giant tree which was well known to visitors of Belovezhskaya Pushcha was severely damaged by the impressive storm. As a result of the hurricane the Oak lost two large branches, which fell down from the crown of the old tree.

Olga Fedotova, chief of the Department of Meteorological forecasting of the HydroMeteoCentre of the Republic of Belarus stated the following comment on the character of the thunderstorm that struck in February: «This is an extremely rare weather phenomenon at our geographic latitude. At least, according to our data, a comparably phenomenon did not occur over the last fifty years. However, we do more frequently record thunderstorms in wintertime during the last decade, which is connected to the increased tendency of global warming. On February 27, Belarus was under a zone of an atmospheric front, which moved at a high speed from Western Europe to the East. Optimal conditions for development of a strong and heavy thunderstorm, being a regional contrast in temperature and high air humidity, were present at the territory of Belarus. However, the recent thunderstorm that occurred recently, with its wide scope covering a vast territory has been an extremely rare and exceptional case».

The scale and force of the hurricane has been judged by contemplating photos that were made at the epicenter of the hurricane. Two hundred year old pines were broken as if they were matches. One hundred old and huge Spruces were torn upward from their roots. Many trees were thrown down in a way that looked like someone would have laid them out, forming lines of fallen trees and creating blockages that are impossibly passed by. Single Pines escaped only here and there.

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(Pictures 1, 2 - compartment 708, July 6, 2002; pictures 3, 4 - June 30, 2002)
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(Pictures 5, 6 - compartment 708, June 30, 2002;
pictures 7, 8 - July 6, 2002)
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(Pictures 9 -11 - compartment 708, June 30, 2002; picture 12 - July 6, 2002)
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(Pictures 13, 14 - compartment 708,
July 6, 2002;
picture 15 - June 30, 2002)

In order to liquidate the results of the hurricane an interdepartmental commission was set up. It consisted of experts of the President's Property Management Department, the Committee of Forestry at the Council of Ministries, regional nature protection departments, divisions of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and other parties. Initially inspection of the damaged territories of the National Park was made. Thereafter the Committee of Forestry at the Council of Ministries permitted sanitary clear cutting of the killed forest on an area of 167 hectares, in coordination with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection. This was done as cleaning of the trees thrown down and killed by the hurricane is important for protection of stands of wood against pests of insects. Trees fallen down on large scale make up an excellent bait and a place for breeding of the insects in case.

These pictures demonstrate clearing of forest annihilated by the hurricane

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(Pictures 1, 2 - compartment 708, July 6, 2002; picture 3 - compartment 678, July 6, 2002)

Clearing the whole territory took several months. The clearing yielded high-quality timber, but half of the trees thrown down were only suitable as fire wood. The cut wood was brought to and processed at the timber processing plant in the village of Kamenyuki. An interesting fact is that single living trees remained even in places where the forest was (nearly) entirely annihilated. In line with the traditions of the Pushcha's management, such trees should not be cut down.

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(Pictures 1, 2 - compartment 678, July 6, 2002; pictures 3, 4 - compartment 679, July 6, 2002)

According to plans artificial planting of Pine and Oak will be done in 2003. For that seedlings will be used that sprouted from seeds of the Pushcha. Therefore cones of tumbled Pines were collected at the sites where the hurricane struck.

In July, 2002 another hurricane passed the territory of Belovezhskaya Pushcha. It is practically impossible to measure the area concerned as well as the damage caused by the windstorm, since at this storm trees where thrown down in smaller groups throughout the whole forest.

The first picture shows a part of the forest thrown down by the wind by the second hurricane. The second picture shows the appearance of the central road which heads towards the entrance of National Park from the village of Kamenyuki after the hurricane struck. All over the road branches lay scattered, while separate, old Willows lay at the sides of the road.

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(Compartment 744, July 2002, Kamenyuki village)

The hurricane inflicted some damage to a few touristic objects within the territory of the National Park. The first photo depicts a fallen tree which broke into the roof of a pay-desk at the entrance of the zoo with enclosed wild animals. The two next pictures show Aspen trees which had tumbled down and broke a new fence that functioned as an enclosure of the zoo.

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(Kamenyuki village,
the administrative center of the National Park,
July, 2002)