Hurricane Season: Look Up Before the Storm

The Atlantic hurricane season might be winding down for 2020, but still has potential to do damage through about November 30. Even then, the winter storm season will likely ramp up in a few weeks, so prudent homeowners still have some time to plan storm-protection strategies for the trees and shrubs in their landscapes. 

Hurricanes and violent storms

“It is important that people who live in the East and Gulf coastal areas be prepared for the remainder of the 2020 hurricane season,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP* and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “We’re not quite out of the woods yet. Even people in the midwestern states should heed the warning. Right now, prepare your trees to survive a major storm. Don’t wait until the storm is headed your way.” One of the greatest dangers to life and property during high-wind events is posed by falling trees and limbs. “Larger trees still in leaf will ‘catch’ more wind and be subjected to increased mechanical stresses. These stresses increase the chances of either branch or whole-tree failure,” explains Andersen. “To help reduce these dangers, have a qualified tree care provider evaluate your trees. Doing this will help determine potential weaknesses and dangers.” 

Look at your trees for the following warning signs:

  • Wires in contact with tree branches. Trees may become energized when they are contacted by electric wires. 
  • Dead or partially attached limbs hung up in the higher branches that could fall and cause damage or injury. 
  • Cracked stems and branch unions that could cause catastrophic failure of a tree section. 
  • Hollow or decayed areas on the trunk or main limbs, or mushrooms growing from the bark that may indicate a decayed and weakened stem. 
  • Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk could also indicate structural weakness. 
  • Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them. 
  • Tight, V-shaped branch unions, which are much more prone to failure than open, U-shaped unions. 
  • Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system.

A tree is a living, growing, changing thing, and its integrity and stability could change over time. Don’t assume that a tree that has survived nine severe storms will necessarily survive a tenth. Simultaneously, not all large trees are dangerous. Contact your tree care expert for an on-site examination.

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