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Experts explain how to identify trees at risk of damage during storms

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Posted at 6:22 PM, Feb 27, 2023

Strong winds and heavy rain created chaos in many wooded areas. The sheer force of recent storms ripped dead and live trees alike, right out of the ground.

Crews spent the last few days at a site in Los Osos heavily impacted by recent storms, cutting down high-risk trees. Their goal is to hopefully avoid more trees giving way during upcoming storms.

Bill VanHorbek, a certified arborist for Bunyon Brothers, described what tree owners can look out for when assessing if their trees are at risk of failing.

"First, start at the ground. We do it very systematically, so we look at this root collar to see if it's exposed. We check to see if there’s any mushrooms or fruiting bodies," VanHorbek explained. "If we have some missing bark that would be a telltale sign that the tree isn’t looking good."

Neighbor Tracy Airth had a very close call with a tree near her home.

"A big one just fell into a bunch of other trees, and it was hung up there for about a week and then it gave way and landed in our horse paddock," Airth said.

Luckily, her donkey and horse survived, but since then, several other trees around the area have fallen.

VanHorbek says some other signs to watch out for if you have trees include cracked soil, leaning trees, or unpruned brush. A heavy tree will fail more quickly in a windstorm.

Whether beaten by storms or infested with bugs, if one tree succumbs to the elements, the surrounding will most likely see the same fate.

Experts say it’s a good idea, especially after these storms, to double-check on your trees to see if the recent wind uprooted or weakened your tree. They also advise you to call a professional to assess for any root disease or damage.

They warn it's best to get out in front of the issue before it's too late.