Hurricane Season: Look Up Before the Storm

The Atlantic hurricane season is a time when most tropical cyclones are expected to develop across the northern Atlantic Ocean. It is currently defined as the time frame from June 1 through November 30. What plans should prudent consumers take with the trees in their landscape?

hurricane

Hurricanes and violent storms

“It is important that people who live in East and Gulf coastal areas be prepared,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association. “Even people in the upper Midwest should heed the warning. Right now, get your trees as ready as they can be 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 hurricanes is posed by falling trees and limbs. “Growing trees will ‘catch’ more wind and become heavier, so they are prone to increase mechanical stresses, increasing the chances of failure,” explains Andersen. “Preparing trees for a natural disaster is a must and should be done well in advance of the storm 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:

• 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 forks 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 indicate a decayed and weakened stem.
• Peeling bark or gaping wounds in the trunk also indicate structural weakness.
• Fallen or uprooted trees putting pressure on other trees beneath them.
• Tight, V-shaped forks, which are much more prone to failure than open U-shaped ones.
• Heaving soil at the tree base is a potential indicator of an unsound root system

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 nine severe storms will necessarily survive a tenth.

Find a professional

A professional arborist can assess your landscape and work with you to determine the best trees and shrubs to plant for your existing landscape. Contact the Tree Care Industry Association, a public and professional resource on trees and arboriculture since 1938. It has more than 2,000 member companies who recognize stringent safety and performance standards and who are required to carry liability insurance. TCIA has the nation’s only Accreditation program that helps consumers find tree care companies that have been inspected and accredited based on adherence to industry standards for quality and safety; maintenance of trained, professional staff; and dedication to ethics and quality in business practices. 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 doing a ZIP Code search on www.treecaretips.org.

*Board Certified Master Arborist, Certified Treecare Safety Professional

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