Bizarre video shows ‘Breathing Forest’ in Quebec

The clip, which went viral after being posted on Twitter by user Daniel Holland, was reportedly filmed in Canada and was originally submitted to The Weather Network by a viewer named Tonie.

“The ground looks like it’s breathing in this Quebec forest,” Holland wrote. Sure enough, the moss-covered ground can be seen undulating in a very peculiar fashion, almost as though the forest itself is inhaling and exhaling.

As it turns out however, the clip does have a rather mundane explanation. No, it’s not special effects: this video really does capture a section of a forest in Quebec heaving to and fro, looking like it’s a living, breathing, sentient woodland. But no, there’s no mysterious magic at work here, even if it is suspiciously close to Halloween. No giants are asleep under those rocks; no spooky forest spirits are at play.

Instead, explains Mark Sirois of the Southern Quebec Severe Weather Network, it’s an understandable meteorological phenomenon in which the elements have come together just right to create this unusual scene, which was captured and shared around online in a video that went viral earlier this week.

“When you look at the trees in the background, it’s clear that the winds were very strong,” Sirois notes. “The forest floor seems to be moss covered, which leaves a lot of the root system of younger trees lodged in a loose medium. As the wind sways the trees, you get the roots lifting the floor. This gives the appearance of ‘breathing.’” Sirois’s explanation is corroborated by other meteorological experts who agree that there’s nothing amiss in the scene, despite its unsettling appearance.

“During a rain and windstorm event the ground becomes saturated, ‘loosening’ the soil’s cohesion with the roots as the wind is blowing on a tree’s crown,” arborist Mark Vanderwouw told The Weather Network.

“The wind is trying to ‘push’ the trees over, and as the force is transferred to the roots, the ground begins to ‘heave’. If the winds were strong enough and lasted long enough more roots would start to break and eventually some of the trees would topple.”

Unfortunately – or, depending on how creepy you found the video, fortunately – the phenomenon is actually quite mundane. The footage, which reportedly comes from a forest in Sacre-Coeur, Quebec, is just showing us what happens when strong winds meet soil that’s been loosened by a storm.

“During a rain and windstorm event the ground becomes saturated, ‘loosening’ the soil’s cohesion with the roots as the wind is blowing on a tree’s crown,” certified arborist Mark Vanderwouw told The Weather Network.

“The wind is trying to ‘push’ the trees over, and as the force is transferred to the roots, the ground begins to ‘heave’. If the winds were strong enough and lasted long enough more roots would start to break and eventually some of the trees would topple.”

As recent events have shown in apocalyptic detail, the wind can be capable of some pretty scary stuff. After a summer of gigantic NSFW hurricanes able to fire beams of antimatter at us as they lurch threateningly towards erupting volcanos, a hyperventilating forest seems almost cute by comparison. And even fairly normal wind conditions can have seriously catastrophic consequences, as the residents of Tacoma, Washington famously learned in 1940 when the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was iconically brought down by winds of only 64 kilometers per hour (40 miles per hour).