7 Tree Hazards Caused by a Storm

Dave Bargerstock
Written by Dave Bargerstock
Updated July 7, 2015
storm damaged tree with severed roots
High winds can cause trees to rock, severing the roots in some cases. (Photo courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company)

While summer storms offer a welcome break from the heat or much needed water for a garden, they can wreak havoc after they’ve left.

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Once a storm subsides, make it a priority to check landscape trees.

Keeping trees healthy, pruned and structurally sound helps minimize accidents before the storm. Healthy trees can hold their ground in almost any weather, especially heavy winds and downpours.

Poorly maintained trees can become a problem. Check for the following signs to get to the root of any tree issues and keep your home safe.

MORE: Angie's List Guide to Tree Care and Services

1. Dead wood

Dead trees and branches can fall at any time. Look for leafless branches when others have plenty of green leaves. Another sign of dead wood is old bark that has mostly fallen and hasn’t been replaced with new bark — instead there is only smooth wood underneath. 

2. Tree cracks

Storms can cause branches to twist, bend and crack. Check for deep splits in the bark that extend into the wood of the tree or internal or external cavities. 

3. Tree decay

Soft wood or cavities where wood is missing is a sign of decay. In time, decay will continue to cause structural problems.

CHECK OUT: How Much Does Tree Removal Cost?

4. Weak branch union

When two or more branches intersect together on the same trunk, a weak union is created. The bark can’t hold the branches together, and the upper side of the branch is unable to secure itself to the trunk. 

5. Broken limbs

Assess the crown of damaged trees to check for large, broken limbs. Proper pruning thins the tree canopy, allowing wind to blow through it instead of against it as though it were a sail.

fallen tree branch on garage
Dead trees or branches can harm your home, car and family. (Photo courtesy of The Davey Tree Expert Company)

6. Root problems

High winds can cause trees to rock, even causing the severing of roots in some cases. Check to see if a tree is leaning to tell if it’s been affected. Wilting is also an obvious sign a tree’s roots are damaged. 

7. Poor tree architecture

This is characterized by excessive leaning of the tree or branches growing out of proportion with the rest of the tree crown. Odd growth patterns may indicate general weakness or structural imbalance.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why You Should Remove a Dead Tree

Although defective trees are dangerous, not all of them need to be removed immediately. Some defects can be treated to prolong the life of the tree.

Seek a consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate tree species, soil conditions, wind exposure, defects, overall health and other factors to determine a tree’s hazard potential. Tree risks aren’t always visible or obvious. Advanced analysis, sometimes through the use of specialized arborist tools or techniques, may be necessary.

Summer storms can be quick, but cause significant and lasting damage. Be prepared by having a plan to prevent devastation on your property.

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As of July 7, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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