Understanding the essential tree facts for hurricane season is crucial to reducing the threat of damage from storms here in Florida. Hurricane season is officially from May 22 until November 30, 2021. This is the time when many Floridians will face tropical storms and possibly hurricanes. The Florida Panhandle is currently facing landfall of Tropical Storm Fred with rain bands impacting Jacksonville while Tropical Depression Grace is tracking through the Caribbean, and Tropical Depression 8 that could become Henri is gaining strength near Bermuda.
The following are a few tree facts for hurricane season preparation.
1. Older trees may need pruning to reduce the risk of overhanging limbs to structures and power lines. Remove dead, diseased, cracked, and broken limbs at risk of falling during high wind events and hurricanes. A licensed arborist can provide professional assessments of what needs to be done to protect the specific trees before and after hurricane season. With eighteen inches of rain in the last six weeks, the ground is saturated with water that weakens root systems.
2. Some trees are at greater risk of attracting lighting, with those struck most often being oak, pine, and palms. When hit, the tree will attempt to repair itself but should be monitored over some months. Ultimately the damaged tree may require pruning or complete removal.
3. Tree species with shallow roots and large canopies, when combined with saturated soil, are at higher risk of coming down during high wind and rain events. Examples are Maples, Willows, Elms, and Birches.
4. Recently planted younger trees’ root systems may still be inadequate to protect against extreme wind and rain and can be at serious risk of falling. Staking trees when planted and leaving them staked throughout the season is best. Many can be stood back up, replanted, and secured if they fall. Still, they can be badly damaged in such events where the roots become ajar, exposed, or damaged.
Though tragic, it’s hardly a surprise when we see news coverage of a limb or large tree that fell into a home or that crushed a vehicle during high wind and rain. Regardless of the conditions of our trees, when faced with an impending storm event, it is best to assess the situation. Be aware of your surroundings, especially what is above, and take necessary precautions to protect friends, family, and yourself.
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