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November 10, 2013—Winter is the season for some of nature's most severe weather. Storms in all shapes and forms create havoc throughout the country. One of the greatest dangers posed by storms is presented by falling trees. Unsafe trees are a threat to lives and property.
"Many shade and ornamental trees are damaged throughout the year by windstorms, lightning or ice and snow accumulations," notes Tchukki Andersen, CTSP*, Board Certified Master Arborist and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. "Damage usually consists of a few broken branches. However, more severe damage - such as splitting or pulling apart of branch unions, removal of large areas of bark, twisting and splitting of the trunk, or even uprooting - pose possible dangers."
A few tree species, including Chinese elm, silver maple, boxelder and various poplars, have brittle wood that is easily broken. These rapidly growing trees cause a considerable amount of damage to homes, cars, buildings and utility lines each year. Homeowners should be aware of these characteristics and avoid planting them close to potential targets. If such trees are already growing in these locations, preventive pruning, bracing or cabling may help reduce storm damage this winter. This is particularly true as the tree grows in size and the weight and surface of the leaf and branch area increases.
Over the years, growing trees will "catch" more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increased mechanical stresses, thus increasing the chances of failure. Larger trees will also affect an increased area should they or their larger limbs fall. This means that power lines, homes and other structures that might not have been threatened a few years ago might suddenly be under threat by a tree that has grown. Preparing trees for these natural disasters is a must and should be done well in advance of the stormy season. To help ease these dangers, have a professional arborist evaluate your trees. Doing this will help you determine potential weaknesses and dangers.
Look at your trees for the following warning signs:
Remember, too, that a tree is a living thing, and its integrity and stability change over time, so don't assume that a tree that has survived 10 severe storms will necessarily survive an eleventh.
Find a professional. A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees to plant. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. An easy way to find a tree care service provider in your area is to use the "Locate Your Local TCIA Member Companies" program. You can use this service by calling 1-800-733-2622 or by doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.
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