How Hurricanes Affect Your Trees
Each year, from June through November, some of Mother Nature's most destructive and unpredictable storms hit the East coast of the United States, wreaking havoc in their erratic paths.
Not only do they cause billions of dollars in damage to cities, homes, and neighborhoods, but these storms significantly impact our landscapes and trees. Hurricane Florence landed on Wrightsville Beach in 2018, causing more than $70 million in damage to nearly 1,200,000 acres of forested land and trees.
Hurricane damage to trees
Trees are significantly damaged by wind and flooding during a storm like a hurricane. These storms have the potential to unleash heavy and sustained periods of rainfall as they move inland, quickly overwhelming the landscape and flooding tree roots with little possibility of respite.
These tree roots need water and oxygen to grow, but they can only assimilate these "ingredients" from little pockets in the soil. Prolonged flooding can cut off oxygen stores within the soil, and this is a surefire way to weaken root systems that will eventually lead to tree death.
Our robust and sturdy trees
Our strong, sturdy trees can usually tolerate between 24 and 36 hours of prolonged flooding, but within this window, a variety of factors such as species and age can affect the length of time an individual tree can stand strong.
Coastal communities get a flood of saltwater in areas used to freshwater supplies. Increased salt levels in the soil can quickly displace vital nutrients that trees need to survive. Additional salt acts as an herbicide, quickly causing tree roots to dry up.
Growing season factors
Trees are more likely to recover from extensive flooding if it occurs in the later stages of a growing season. The process of photosynthesis uses sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce glucose. This glucose is stored in the roots and crown for later use.
If flooding doesn't occur until later stages of a growing season, a tree is able to draw on these excess stores of energy to survive. Soil that remains continually saturated and flooded will ultimately lead to tree death.
The potential for wind damage to trees during a hurricane is significant. Wind speeds in excess of 160 mph can quickly pull and stretch tree roots, causing trees to snap off at the trunk. Even leaf loss can be catastrophic, as it impedes a tree's ability to photosynthesize and produce energy. Trees should be assessed as soon as possible after a storm to determine how much damage has occurred and if vegetation can be saved.
Your landscape after the storm
If you're a property owner living in an area prone to hurricanes, your first thought may not be your landscape as you face catastrophic cleanup. The reality is that trees add value and beauty to your home and property, and efforts to repair and replace them should be a priority as you seek normalcy after a storm once more. A certified arborist can provide a professional assessment, advice, and services related to protecting and preserving those valuable trees.
Sarasota Tree Service is family-owned, operated, and ISA certified; they specialize in all aspects of tree care, assessment, and removal. The health of your trees does impact your home and property; let our qualified, professional arborists protect your most valuable investment–your home. Visit www.sarasotatreeserv.com for more information.