Microburst downs thousands of conifers near Stanley, Idaho

Microburst downs thousands of trees at Redfish Lake. ‘A miracle that no one was killed’ during mountain wind event. By Greg Stahl.  Idaho Mountain Express.

This happened on July 3. There were thousands of people in the area.





  1. vicki Avatar

    Thank goodness no one was killed.
    This happened a couple of summers ago in the North Park area of Colorado, near Walden.
    When I went to hike, the disasterous scene shocked me…no news of it was published outside of the local paper.
    It was an area that has a major infestation of pine beetles. The mix of live and dead trees was pretty amazing. it looked like a war zone.
    They are still cleaning up two years later, and have closed many campgrounds pending the clean up of dangerous snags.
    I have wondered if it will have any impact on the beetles. One can only hope.
    The winds came during a slow time for hiking and fishing, so that was a blessing. It blew over 35 foot camp trailers and lifted boats up and flipped them.
    The fact is though, it wasn’t the first time it occured in this area. That could be due to the frequency of afternoon storms. There is no way to prepare, except perhaps, now the camp grounds being cleared may have fewer spots? Then the areas for tents may have more distance from trees as a safety precaution? Who knows. That will definitely make camping a different experience. No one who goes there to camp does so with the hope of being anything less than in the trees. It may just be a chance people see as worth taking, less likely than being hit by a bus, etc.
    The area is beautiful, boasting a huge aray of animals and plants, even in the midst of the beetle killed trees. Now, with fewer pines, the aspen are coming in full force.
    When it comes to Mother Nature, there is no limit to her ability to heal and beautify. Maybe it was in the great natural scheme of things all along.?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I was in a microburst once when I was backpacking in the Teton Wilderness.

    There was a small black cloud overhead. It had been drifting around for quite a while as I ascended a shallow, steep canyon. It looked like it could drop a little rain, but no lightning, and the sky was not covered. The sun was shining.

    I was getting close to timberline and the trees were getting stunted. I sat down to rest along a row of Englemann spruce . . . pretty massive, but at most 20 feet high.

    Suddenly a wind began, quickly getting stronger and stronger. From its direction I realized I should not be under the copse of trees. I ran, almost flew, with the wind at my back; and the whole row of trees topped from their roots onto where I had been sitting. The wind quit. The whole thing took maybe a minute.

  3. john weis Avatar
    john weis

    Vicki, that blow down you are describing is amazing: we have back packed thru that area. Just awesome how the wind could have such a force to uproot acres and acres of mature trees.

  4. vicki Avatar

    It was mind blowing-no pun intended. The fish seem to be benefiting from the insect activity in downed trees along side, and over, the streams.

  5. vicki Avatar

    You must be charmed or have one heck of a lucky streak! Wow.
    I have been in tornados. I was in one microburst, though I was in a trailer, it wasn’t big and lasted a minute or so also…but noone was injured.
    I think these micro bursts are far more frightening. Less shelter, more chance for injury, and no predictability at all… you are truly fortunate.

  6. JEFF E Avatar
    JEFF E

    I was at redfish last Thursday. we could not find a site right around the lake so had to go across the river to sunny gulch. My wife and I were pretty disappointed until the next morning. Driving around the lake the first thing I noticed was that all the trees that had been toppled were facing generally away from the lake no matter what side you were on. other than that it was another day in the Rockies.
    blowdowns, fires, snow in the middle of July, hail, 100 plus degree temp, wildlife, it all happens here. gotta love it

  7. eileen Avatar

    I also experienced a microburst. It was a number of years ago not sure when and it moved up the middle fork of the Payette. It really slammed the Boiing Springs Campground. If I recall right a woman was trapped in a camper by falling trees, and a man ran out – over many downed trees to get help. Once again, miraculously, no one was killed.

    I watched it from a ridge high above Horsethief Reservoir. I’d never experienced anything like it. We watched this strange green cloud move up the valley – the color of ocean water as it breaks on the shore, and you look through the wave. A person we were with said that meant hail and a rough storm coming – he was right. We had time to put stuff away, and scurry to our vehicles. It hit hard, hail rain too dense to see beyond the hood of our vehicle. The wind rocked our car violently and wondered if a landslide would take us down the mountain. Really wild, probably lasted 15 minutes – I’ll never forget it.

  8. Thor Junker Avatar
    Thor Junker

    I was in that storm… That was very Scary for all of us. We were camping in a big Cabelas Alnak 12×20 tent. we were sitting around at my aunt camp site and all of a sudden we could hear the wind coming it was so loud … we could hear the trees craking. so we all went back to the tent and we were going to go to sleep but then one of the poles fell inside the tent which was a long pole. so we all got in our jeep and right as we were getting in a huge tree hit our trailer… so we drove around to see if people were ok. and then we went to my cousins camper trailer. then about 15-10 minnuts later we all went out to see the wreckage. TWO trees landed right on our tent. then the next mornig we were eating breakfast and two jets flew over that was the coolest part… but it was scary … it was like being in a horror film.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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