Thursday, February 3, 2011

Midwest Winter Storm Aftermath: Checking for Winter Tree Damage

From January 31 to February 2, the Midwest United States experienced an eye-opening winter storm: almost four billion dollars worth of damage followed relentless snow, ice, and wind that wreaked havoc all the way from northern Mexico to eastern Canada. Although many are still shoveling snow and digging out cars, those who have the chance should get outside and assess any trees and shrubs on the property for damage from this widespread catastrophe. Just because the storm is over doesn’t mean that homeowners are in the clear: many trees are still weakened from heavy snow and ice, proving a notable danger to nearby people and property. 

Cracks and Splits

Many cracks and splits in the tree will heal naturally over time. However, cracks in stressed areas can end in broken branches when the limbs snap back after the snow melts. Take note and keep an eye on these compromised structures. Additional damage could be sustained by further snow or ice storms – even if they don’t approach the level of the 2011 blizzard. Do not attempt to remove snow with a broom as many sources suggest – let a professional tree service or arborist make the call and, if needed, install supports.A certified arborist may also make valuable suggestions on how to check for winter tree damage that may not be as easily visible.

Broken Branches

Broken limbs and branches will usually require removal. If the problem is due to a weak V connection, if the majority of the tree is broken, or if a portion of the top has fallen, the entire tree may face removal and needs to be evaluated by an arborist. If the limbs and branches have already fallen off, it is advisable to prune the remaining section before spring, flush but angled for proper moisture drainage. Hanging limbs should always be removed by a professional tree service - many quality companies offer emergency tree service for quick repair in conditions just like these. The urgency of this procedure depends on the proximity to property, power lines, and gathering spaces. Hesitation could end in expensive repairs or even a lawsuit.

The last thing anybody wants to do after a winter storm is run outside to inspect the landscaping. However, when one considers the potential cost of neglecting young and established trees in these extremely vulnerable times, the value of proper maintenance immediately becomes apparent. Remember to routinely prune and assess the structure of your trees, regardless of size or age, to ensure that storms like the 2011 blizzard cannot cause as much harm in the future.

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