4 Ways Trees are Affected by St. Louis Storms

An arborists job is deeply tied to the weather. Without knowing what weather to expect for the coming day or season, it’s tough for arborists to plan for daily operations and the trees on which they work. Forecasting the weather is an important skill for arborists to learn, helping them better assess how storms affect trees, how to anticipate and mitigate possible damage ahead of time, and how to effectively respond when storms strike.

Tree removal and clearing after a storm can provide faster access for tree removal companies, first responders, line repair crews, and other emergency service personnel. These crews must be ready to provide a swift and well-coordinated response with the equipment. Successful storm response allows  everyone involved to work harder and smarter, ultimately restoring the critical services to the communities and customers served by the tree removal industry.

How Branches and Trees Fail

Trees are structures. Just like any structure, they have breaking points. Fortunately, as trees grow, they continually adapt to the load of their own weight, as well as the weight that wind and rain brings to branches.

Trees also suffer defects over time, such as leans, decay, girding roots, or poor branch attachments. Storm conditions can damage their structure and increase load and stress, which leads to failure if bad enough.

Effects of Rain, Ice and Snow

Trees accumulate the weight of many things, from ice to snow to animals and fruit. Sometimes they have to adapt to this weight change at a moments notice. Most trees can handle these conditions, including typical weather conditions. However, unusual or extreme conditions can increase the likelihood of failure. Examples include:

  • accumulating ice on twigs and branches
  • heavy downpours on dense, wide trees
  • wet snow, especially on trees that haven’t yet lost their leaves

The added weight of these factors leads to failure if the loads exceed trunk, branch, the density of twigs or foilage, the degree of lean, and wind.

Effects of Wind

Wind places loads on trees, including trunks, branches, and roots that lead to higher stress levels. The length and size of tree branches can help to dampen the overall effects of wind, but as wind speed increases, the load placed on stress points within the tree can increase and fail.

Effects of Saturated Soils

Some soils can become saturated by heavy rain, which reduces the friction between roots and soil and the holding capacity of roots. The reduction of friction means that the tree roots have less density. When saturated soil is combined with the conditions listed above, it increases the likelihood that entire tree failure is increased.

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