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Why Do Some Trees Fall Down During Storm?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015
When you think of trees, you imagine a beautiful street with trees on both sides, where maybe your kids will ride their bicycle, or you will take your dog out for a walk. Trees are naturally associated with happy memories. What you will not picture is a tree toppling over and causing damage to any house or god-forbid, a human being. However, no matter how big you think is a tree, there can be a chance of it toppling over – tree falling down is an accident that can happen anywhere. However, if you know what it takes something to pull out a tree from its roots, you can prevent this from happening.

Why Do Some Trees Topple During Storm?

The first thing that any tree specialist will say is somewhat unpleasant and harsh, it is: “all trees have the potential of falling down”. However, tree doesn't just fall down without any outer force – these accidents are caused due to heavy storm, snow hail or powerful winds. One phenomenon well known to the specialist is “wind-throw” that uproots a tree and knocks it off. The taller the tree, the more it is susceptible to this phenomenon. Trees have more chance of falling over within an urban landscape – this usually happens when city plan does not allow the roots of the trees to grow as deeper as they need to spread. Second factor is the constructional damage. Because of roots cut and harm done during construction, tree’s roots may become a victim of decay over time – you never know how wilted a tree is underneath the ground until it falls off.

 trees topple

Are All Trees at Equal Risk of Falling Down?

Trees in urban areas, especially those who have at some point become a victim of constrained growth or a constructional damage are more at risk of falling down. Apart from that, there are some species of trees that have higher risk of falling off as well. Some of these species are willow white spruce, cedar and white pine. However, these are victim of the storm also because of having to grow in wet areas. The trees that are at the risk most are the ones that have recently suffered from the phenomenon known as a sudden climate change. When the trees that were a part of a forest loose the support of a rim of trees, they become far more vulnerable to weather hazards such as storms, heavy wind and snowfall.

Is There Any Species That Fall Down the Most?

After the hurricane of 1938, the best database was formed of toppled trees. This extensive survey brought about the results, and they included the fact that white pine and willow are two kinds of trees that are the most at risk of toppling over. Other trees that fell over the most were Amur Maple and Norway Maple, which lost most of their branches.

How Wet a Soil is Harmful?

Continuous heavy rainstorms often lead to the soil getting even softer, hence causing the trees to fall over. However, there isn't a specific percentage of rainfall that may affect tree, and it depends on how deeply rooted the roots are, which in most cases are only at the upper layer of the soil. Hence, you cannot say how heavy a rain will actually affect your tree enough for it to fall down.

Is There Any Prevention to Such Disaster?

Yes, there are a few methods, as told by the specialists, which determine the structure of the tree. Two of these methods are Sonic Tomography and Resistograph Drill Test. Checking the health of a tree’s trunk as well as roots crown can be of help, and so will be checking how high or low the limbs are elevated from above the ground. 

Find more informative articles on trees here.

Content Sources:
  1. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/11/12/why-do-trees-topple-in-a-storm
  2. http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcin078.pdf/$FILE/fcin078.pdf
  3. http://warnell.forestry.uga.edu/service/library/index.php3?docID=53