Tree Stress in the Aftermath of Major Ice Storms

Dangerous weather conditions leave devastating footprint and potential for long-term damage

Severe ice storms in recent weeks crippled dozens of communities across the U.S., where the first order of business was clearing roads and restoring power. The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) also reminds homeowners that what’s fallen to the ground after an ice event is only part of the overall danger when working around damaged and ice-covered trees.

According to the Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation (SPIA) Index, a tool used to predict potential damage in an ice storm, a quarter to a half inch of ice combined with wind gusts of 25 to 35 miles per hour can cause excessive damage to tree limbs. The ISA says this exposes people to an increased risk because potential hazards are not always obvious to the untrained eye.

“Tree limbs damaged in an ice storm can split or break in the treetops, and branches of all sizes can come crashing down at any time – especially during high winds,” says Jim Skiera, ISA Executive Director. “That’s why trees should be checked from the bottom up—preferably by an ISA Certified Arborist—to determine the full extent of damage.”

Skiera states that the weight of the ice puts major stress on a tree, which might require restoration pruning or the addition of supplemental support such as cables or braces.

Tips on Hiring a Tree Service:

  • Dangerous work such as pruning or removing trees—especially large trees—should be left to professionals who are trained in the art and science of care, maintenance and safety.
  • Be sure to ask for proof of insurance before hiring a tree service for the job.  A reputable company will have personal and property damage insurance and coverage for worker’s compensation.
  • Don’t hire someone asking for your business door-to-door and offering reduced rates for tree work. Most reputable companies will not solicit work this way.
  • Never allow a tree professional to ‘top’ your trees. Topping trees does more harm than good. It increases the tree’s recovery time and makes the tree more dangerous.
  • Find a qualified ISA Certified Arborist in your area by visiting ISA’s consumer website, www.treesaregood.org.

ABOUT ISA

The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), headquartered in Champaign, Ill., U.S., is a nonprofit organization supporting tree care research and education around the world. To promote the importance of arboriculture, ISA manages the consumer education web site, www.treesaregood.org, which fulfills the association’s mission to help educate the public about the importance and value of proper tree care. Also, as part of ISA’s dedication to the care and preservation of shade and ornamental trees, it offers the only internationally-recognized certification program in the industry. For more information on ISA and Certified Arborists, visit www.isa-arbor.com.

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