Follow these recommendations for reducing tree damage caused by severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
Be sure to check local tree regulations prior to pruning or removing trees.
Before a Storm
Check trees for potential problems
Check trees for these potential problems:
- Cracks in the trunk or major limbs
- Hollow and decayed trees
- Trees that look one-sided or lean significantly
- Branches hanging over the building near the roof
- Limbs in contact with power lines
- Mushrooms growing from the bark, indicating a decayed or weakened stem
- V-shaped forks rather than U-shaped ones (V-shaped are more likely to split)
- Crossing branches that rub or interfere with one another
- Promptly remove diseased, damaged, or dead plant parts to help limit the spread of harmful insects and disease.
- Avoid pruning branches flush to the trunk. Doing so removes not only the limb but also some of the trunk wood, exposing the plant to decay or insect damage.
- Begin pruning by making a cut partway through the bottom of any limb to be trimmed, a few inches from the trunk. Then, cut through the limb just above the first cut. This ensures when the limb falls, it will not tear off a long strip of bark on the way down. Finish by cutting off the few inches sticking out from the trunk. Be sure to leave the “branch collar,” the swollen area of trunk tissue that forms around the base of a branch. This protects the main trunk from damage.
Have an arborist assess trees
- Have an arborist check trees to assess their resistance to storm damage. A shallow-rooted tree growing in soft soil can easily topple onto a building in strong winds. A tree’s roots also can become weakened after heavy rains, elevating the risk.
After a Storm
Report property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately after a severe weather event or other natural disaster and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. For information about filing an insurance claim after a natural disaster, contact your insurance agent or insurance company.
Care for storm-damaged trees
- Only reset smaller trees, since larger trees will be weakened and may fall again.
- Cut weakened sections of trees and shrubbery that can easily be blown around during high winds.
- Remove branches hanging over a structure.
- Contact the local utility company to trim away any limbs close to utility lines that could potentially pull down lines or even entire poles. Never touch a wire while trimming.
- Decide what to do with tree stumps:
- If you are going to leave them or have someone grind them, cut the stump off flush with the ground.
- If you plan to remove them, leave 4 ft of stump standing. Removal will be cheaper and easier if stumps can be pulled out instead of dug out.