Barns are becoming a dying breed. They are convenient for farming and storing equipment. But like the house made of sticks in The Three Little Pigs, they often get blown down. These historic beauties often leave behind stories behind that we can learn from when learning how to weather-proof your house and choosing where to build.
On September 23, 1806, the worst debris avalanche to date happened in the villages of Goldau, Busingen and Roethen in the Swiss Alps. After two wet years and heavy rainfall, about 37 million m3 of rock slid down the Rossberg on a marl layer. The three villages were buried and a tidal wave in Lake Lauerz destroyed most of Lauerz village. There were 953 people and 395 head of livestock killed. Occupied houses and 85 barns were wiped out.
A barn in Cass County, IN, was destroyed by flood in March, 1913. The floods devastated several towns and cities in Indiana and Ohio when the White River overflowed. Residents were evacuated with 20,000 made homeless and 200 killed. The barn structure was undermined and the building collapsed.
In 1961, a tornado tore through Tallahassee, Florida completely destroying tobacco and cattle barns. The tornado moved through a farm area about five miles south of Quincy on November 24, destroying a cattle barn of the plantation of J.J. Love and a tobacco barn five miles away on the farm of E.M. Potter. Both wooden structures were completely flattened. The estimated damage was $100,000 and nine head of cattle were killed.
Iowa and Minnesota, USA
In September, 2011, in Iowa, hog manure that was stored exploded and destroyed a barn. As the manure breaks down, it emits toxic gases some of which are flammable. The manure becomes covered with a layer of foam that traps the methane gas causing it to build up and explode. Three barns were destroyed in Iowa and three in Minnesota.
Another tornado destroyed a barn in 2013 in Bourbon County, KY. Several barns were damaged when the tornado tore through the county. A few had their roofs torn off and four were completely destroyed. The barns were used to house tobacco and store equipment. The owner said that the barns that were destroyed were solid constructions, but they got flattened.
South Tyrol, Italy
In January, 2014 in South Tyrol, Italy, a giant bolder flattened a 300-year-old stone barn. The giant rock rolled down a hill smashing into the barn door. No one was hurt because the rock stopped just outside the main house, but the barn was completely destroyed. The family was evacuated until the rock is removed. They said the sound was like a train thundering through their living room.
Missouri and Kansas, USA
In Missouri and Kansas, spring tornados ripped through the rural northern regions without warning. Homes and barns were completely destroyed, and silos were bent like soda cans. There were tornado sirens in Trenton, but there are no sirens in the countryside.
Another type of natural disaster destroyed two barns in Montcalm County, MI, in April 2014. A lightning storm cause a fire on several farms destroying two barns. One barn that was full of hay was hit by lightning. It was an old, wooden barn that was huge. Only one side was affected, but before the firefighters could set up, the fire moved to the roof and spread over the whole barn. The home nearby was not damaged and no livestock were hurt. The hay in the barn smoldered for several days.
The second barn was also hit by lightning during the storm. The firefighters were on the scene for more than 12 hours after the owners called 911, and some remained to dig smoldering hay out of the barn. The owners lived across the road and their house was damaged by smoke. It is not known if there was any livestock or equipment inside the barn.
North of Sandoval, IL, straight-line winds destroyed three barns. The owners of the barns were inside their home and didn’t hear anything unusual outside. When they went outside, they saw that three barns were completely destroyed. The barns are a total loss. About six animals were killed and the rest were moved to other shelters. The straight-line winds came just minutes after the tornado warning for the area was cancelled by the National Weather Service.